Having already topped the US Champions Tour Money List in 2011, American Tom Lehman faces the leading two players on the European Senior Tour in this week’s MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius.
The 1996 Open Champion is looking to end a special year on a high at Constance Belle Mare Plage, where he will play alongside Peter Fowler and Barry Lane in the first round on Friday.
Fowler and Lane are going head-to-head for the John Jacobs Trophy as the leading two players on the Senior Tour Order of Merit but Lehman is hoping to outshine them both with a victory of his own.
The 2006 United States Ryder Cup Captain won three times on the US Champions Tour in 2011, succeeding German Bernhard Langer as winner of the Charles Schwab Cup, Money List and Player of the Year.
Lehman could add to his haul of titles with victory this week, whilst he is also fulfilling a long-term ambition by visiting the sunshine island of Mauritius for the first time.
“I used to play on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa in 1989/1990 and was told you have to come to Mauritius, it is a beautiful place,” said Lehman. “But we could never afford to come then so when the opportunity was there to do this two tournament swing with Nedbank last week it was perfect timing. We’ve left everything behind – the kids are being looked after – and taken a shot and come over and it has been well worth it.
“David Frost told me that you have to hit it straight on this course. We played together on Saturday at Sun City and I hit it in the bushes three or four times and shot three over. He said ‘you think this is tight, wait for next week’. He forewarned me.”
Lehman, the 2010 US Senior PGA Champion, is making his debut in a regular Senior Tour event and he opened the door to playing more often on this side of the Atlantic in the future.
“I enjoy playing in Europe a great deal,” he said. “I’ve played a fair bit in the past and I enjoy the competition, the courses and the cultures. I have thought about doing a more international schedule as I get older. I could see myself doing that as I enjoy it so much.
“Golf is becoming such a global sport and it is a good thing that the Senior Tour is becoming more global too.”
Fowler welcomed the addition of Lehman to the MCB Tour Championship and noted the role played by Frenchman Marc Farry in attracting the 52 year old to Constance Belle Mare Plage, the resort which Farry is attached to.
“It’s great to see so many great players here and I think it’s down to Marc’s influence,” said Fowler. He has such a good rapport with the other players and he talks through his events with us all. He encourages all to play and we back Marc up by playing in these events. To have an Open Champion in Tom playing here is great for us and we look forward to playing with him.”
Lane, who is £25,569 behind Fowler in the Order of Merit going into the season-finale, is also looking forward to the added distraction of playing alongside Lehman.
“It’s a great thing to be able to invite Tom over because it really enhances the tournaments” said the former Ryder Cup player. “Marc works really hard and to have the US Champions Tour Number One here is a great coup for the Senior Tour and for Mauritius. Tom plays the Senior Open but to play a regular Senior Tour event is fantastic and we are all really pleased to see him over. We’ll see how good the Americans really are!”
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