Having won numerous titles and the Order of Merit on both The European and Senior Tour, Ian Woosnam will go in search of the one prize missing from his glittering CV at The Senior Open Championship, played from July 21-24.
Woosnam won 29 times on The European Tour – with his most memorable triumph coming at the 1991 Masters Tournament – and has added a further four titles since joining the Senior ranks, but victory in a Senior Major has thus far eluded him.
However, the diminutive Welshman is hopeful of building on his tied eighth finish at last year’s Senior Open Championship, which marked his first top ten finish in a Senior Major.
He said: “Other than The Masters, The Senior Open Championship is the biggest tournament I’ll play in this year, so it goes without saying that I’d love to win it. It’s a Senior Major and at this stage of my life it’s probably the only realistic chance I have of winning another Major tournament, because I’m not likely to be slipping on the Green Jacket again any time soon. So I hope I can give it a good go.”
Having recently broken a two-year drought with his victory at the Berenberg Bank Masters in Cologne, Woosnam is heading to the historic Walton Heath Golf Club in Epsom, Surrey, with his confidence fully restored.
He said: “I’m feeling much better about my game now than I was before the win, that’s for sure. I didn’t play particularly well in Holland the week after my win, mainly because my driving was a bit wayward. So back in Jersey over the past few days, I’ve been trying to find a driver which suits me. But my irons have been very good and I’ve been putting well, so if I can sort my driving out I’ll fancy my chances.
“If the course is firm and the ball’s running a long way, I might be able to get away with using a long iron off the tee. The secret at Walton Heath is to find the fairways, because if you find the rough you can end up in all sorts of trouble. So it may be that I go with a one iron and sacrifice some length for more accuracy. Unless we get a lot more rain in the next few weeks, it’ll play like a sea links course for the tournament.
“I’ve played the course a few times, but it’s been a fair while now since I’ve been there. The last time would’ve been the European Open way back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, so I’ll get there on the Monday of the tournament week to play a couple of practice rounds and familiarise myself with the place. Hopefully then it’ll come back to me, and I’ll start recognizing the holes a little more.”
Woosnam managed a pair of top five finishes at Walton Heath Golf Club, in the 1987 and 1989 European Opens.
But the player he fears most at the 25th edition of The Senior Open Championship is the man who has already sampled success over the Old Course at Walton Heath Golf Club – American Tom Kite.
Kite won the European Open in 1980, before returning to Epsom the following year to play his part in America’s victory over their European counterparts in The 1981 Ryder Cup. Twenty years on, the multiple Major winner’s competitive edge remains razor sharp.
Woosnam said: “Tom still plays beautiful golf, so he’ll be very tough to beat. With the course running the way it is, he’s going to be a real contender. The likes of Mark O’Meara and Nicky Price are both also wonderful golfers still, so any number of people could win it.
“As for the Europeans, Bernhard [Langer] has only just come back from injury recently, so I don’t know how fit he’ll be. But he’s such a competitor, you wouldn’t rule him out if he was only 50% fit. He missed three months so he might still be a little rusty, but I’ve got no doubt he’ll give a very good account of himself, like he always does.”
The Senior Open Championship is owned by The R&A and The European Tour and is co- sanctioned as a Senior Major by the European Senior Tour and the US Champions Tour. The first Senior Open Championship was played at Turnberry in 1987, when Neil Coles of England took the title.
Tickets are now on sale to see the returning 1981 Ryder Cup players at the historic Walton Heath Golf Club as part of the 25th edition of The Senior Open Championship. Tickets are available by visiting here, or alternatively by calling +44 (0) 800 0232557.
Fans of golf, horse racing and live music also have an opportunity to indulge their passions through the ‘Three for One’ promotion run jointly by The Senior Open Championship and Epsom Downs Racecourse. For just £40, customers can enjoy a day watching Senior Tour stars in action at the The Senior Open Championship, and gain admission to any one of the five ‘Epsom Live!’ events held at the nearby racecourse throughout July. The ‘Epsom Live!’ experience combines top quality horse racing over the Derby course with concerts from world famous bands such as Scouting for Girls (July 14), The Wanted (July 21) and Blondie (July 28). Tickets are available now by visiting here, or calling 0844 579 3004.