Ian Woosnam will attempt to recreate his own piece of golfing history when he lines up in the field for this week’s Van Lanschot Senior Open at the Royal Haagsche Golf and Country Club in The Hague.
The 53 year old Welshman already owns the distinction of having won back to back on two occasions on The European Tour, in the Monte Carlo Open and the Scottish Open in 1990, and in the Johnnie Walker Classic and the Heineken Classic in 1996.
Now the former Ryder Cup Captain and Masters Tournament champion has the chance to repeat the feat for the first time on the European Senior Tour this week in the Netherlands following his superb triumph in the Berenberg Bank Masters in Cologne on Sunday.
Woosnam produced an imperious showing in Germany, reminiscent of his heyday, when he shot a brilliant final round 66 to come from two shots behind at the start of the day to sweep and a two shot victory.
It was Woosnam’s fourth Senior Tour title, one which moved him up to third on the Order of Merit, and he will now go in search of his fifth victory. “I am a little tired after the tournament in Germany but there is no doubt that the win has perked me up,” he said.
“I always enjoy going to Holland and indeed I am opening a new golf course close to Schiphol airport before I travel to The Hague for the tournament. It is never easy to follow up one with another but I will be giving it my best shot.”
Woosnam will face a strong field in the Netherlands, including two other players currently in the top five of the Order of Merit, second placed Andrew Oldcorn of Scotland and Australia’s Peter Fowler who is fifth.
Oldcorn in particular will travel to the Netherlands in good spirits for, aside from eventual champion Woosnam’s closing 66 in Cologne, Oldcorn’s 67 was the best of the day and moved him from a share of 34th at the start of the day to a finish of tied eighth.
Elsewhere in the field, if ‘beware the injured golfer’ is a phrase to be believed, then George Ryall is a man to be feared as he undertakes his defence of the Van Lanschot title.
The 52 year old Englishman produced a fairytale victory last season, carding a stunning final round 66 to come from five shots behind at the start of the day to overhaul Oldcorn and triumph by a shot, in doing so becoming the first non-exempt winner on the Senior Tour since 2007.
Incredibly, in the run-up to the tournament, Ryall was only the tenth reserve but his top ten finish the week before in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland guaranteed him a spot in the Van Lanschot field. After that, the rest was history.
But his preparations for the Netherlands have been hampered by a back injury which forced him to withdraw after only two holes of the De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall two weeks ago and the pain recurred in the final round in Germany on Sunday. But Ryall remained upbeat.
“I am hoping my back is not going to be an ongoing problem but I do realise I have an issue there,” he said. “I prolapsed a disc a few years back so there is always the case that some weeks are better than others.
“However, I am sure to get a buzz when I get back to The Hague. My wife Susie is coming out for the week which is unusual because she doesn’t normally travel to the tournaments but she wants to come out and enjoy a little bit of the atmosphere that I did last year. I definitely want to make the most of the occasion.”
Ryall progressively improved 12 months ago as the tournament went on, starting with a level par 72 before following that with a 68 and his tournament winning 66, so is clearly a man who knows how to make the most out of the golf course.
“I think you need to be a pretty good ball striker to play well there,” he said. “The course is demanding from tee to green and last year it played quite hard and bouncy. Some courses you know it is going to be a wedge and a putting contest but it is certainly not that.
“But it is a great course. I think the key shots centre around the par fives. You need to score on them which I was fortunate enough to do last year, and if you don’t, you feel like you are losing maybe a couple of shots on the field.”
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