The 2011 European Senior Tour season is set for a dramatic climax at this week’s MCB Tour Championship, as Peter Fowler and Barry Lane go head-to-head for the John Jacobs Trophy in Mauritius.
Australian Fowler holds a €25,569 advantage over Englishman Lane, the only player who can catch him at the top of the Order of Merit, and a top two finish at Constance Belle Mare Plage, or simply an equal or higher finish than Lane, would guarantee he succeeds Boonchu Ruangkit as Number One.
The 52 year old has won twice in 2011, capturing his maiden title in the ISPS Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum in June before adding a second victory the following month in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open.
Likewise Lane has two titles to his name, successfully defending the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open in August and claiming the Casa Serena Open in September.
Now the pair face a straight shoot-out for the Number One spot at the €400,000 season-ending event, played for the first time in Mauritius over the Legends Course at Belle Mare Plage which has twice previously hosted the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open.
Fowler is bidding to become only the third Australian to win the Senior Tour Order of Merit following Noel Ratcliffe in 2000 and Ian Stanley in 2001
He said: “I’ve been playing pretty well this year and I just hope I can keep it going this week. I can’t really do any more than I’ve been doing and just hope it continues. It has been a very consistent year and it would be great to round it off.
Meanwhile Lane is hoping to become the first English winner of the John Jacobs Trophy since Carl Mason in 2007.
Lane finished fourth at Constance Belle Mare Plage last December, one of eight top ten finishes in 2011, and he know he will need to perform even better if he is to stop Fowler from claiming the John Jacobs Trophy.
“I'm looking forward to getting back out to the warm weather and trying to overhaul Peter,” said Lane. “It’s a beautiful place in Mauritius and I love going out there. It is a nice holiday atmosphere in the area but it’s going to be a lot more than a holiday for me.
“I haven’t hit a ball for two weeks now so I should be good and fresh going out there but I can only do my best and it may just depend then on what Peter does.
“I'm really looking forward to the battle. It’s all to play for so it should be very exciting and enjoyable.”
Aside from the battle at the top of the Order of Merit, and of course the MCB Tour Championship title itself, there is plenty for the 54 players in Mauritius to contest.
The top four in the Order of Merit at the conclusion of play will qualify for next year’s US Senior Open Championship, with fifth place Gary Wolstenholme the man most likely to break into those positions. The top 14 players also qualify for the US Senior PGA Championship, while further down the Order of Merit the top 30 will qualify for The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex and the top 40 secure playing privileges for 2012.
Among those hoping to break into the top 30 is American Mike Cunning, winner of last year’s Senior Tour Championship which was played in Castellón, Spain for the third successive year. Meanwhile South African David Frost returns to Constance Belle Mare Plage where he won the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open last December in dramatic fashion.
Frost had surrendered a four shot lead to Roger Chapman during the final round and stood on the 18th tee two shots back but produced a magnificent eagle to force a play-off, which he duly won on the second extra hole for his maiden Senior Tour title.
While Fowler and Lane will compete to be crowned European Senior Tour Number One, the man who claimed the equivalent honour on the other side of the Atlantic, Tom Lehman, is also in the field, making his first appearance in a regular Senior Tour event. Lehman topped the Money List on the US Champions Tour and is one of two former Ryder Cup Captains in the field, along with Sam Torrance.
The MCB Tour Championship concludes the 20th Senior Tour season, a campaign has spanned 21 counting tournaments over 13 months. It is the first staging of the season finale in Mauritius as part of a four year agreement with title sponsor Mauritius Commercial Bank - a deal that will see the 2012 campaign played over a calendar year and end in December.
|T4||BRAND, Gordon J||ENG||18||-4|