England’s Mark James will face a formidable field at the first event of the 2012 Senior Tour season, the Mallorca Open Senior, where the Englishman will be bidding to claim his second Senior Tour title on Majorcan soil and third overall.
Three years ago, James, who captured 18 titles in a glittering career on The European Tour and won The Ryder Cup as a player before captaining the European Team at Brookline in 1999, prevailed in a play-off over Irishman Eamonn Darcy at the inaugural Son Gual Mallorca Senior Open, after closing with a superb round of 66.
The victory was James’ fifth since turning 50 – in addition to his two titles on the Senior Tour he has also won three times on the US Champions Tour, including the Ford Senior Players Championship – and the 58 year old has set his sights on securing his sixth win when the inaugural Mallorca Open Senior takes place from May 11-13 at Pula Golf Club, in Son Servera.
But James will meet strong opposition in the shape of the 1991 Masters Tournament winner Ian Woosnam of Wales as well as Peter Fowler and Barry Lane, who took the race to be crowned the winner of the 2011 Order of Merit down to the wire, with the Australian eventually prevailing courtesy of a superbly consistent year which yielded two victories and a further 11 top ten finishes.
Fowler, winner of the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open and the ISPS Handa Senior Masters, will now bid to become the first man since Scotland’s Sam Torrance in 2006 to retain the John Jacobs Trophy.
Fowler and Woosnam will be joined in San Servera by two men who have also lifted the John Jacobs Trophy, namely 2010 winner Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand and England’s Carl Mason, who ended the 2003, 2004 and 2007 seasons as the Senior Tour’s Number One.
The home challenge at Pula Golf Club will be led by José Maria Canizares, who finished runner-up behind James at the Ford Senior Players Championship, and his fellow former Ryder Cup players Manuel Piñero, José Rivero and Antonio Garrido, winner of The European Tour’s first ever event 40 years ago.
Senior Tour champions Domingo Hospital and Juan Quiros will also be in attendance, along with three-time European Tour champion Miguel Angel Martin, who will be making his Senior Tour bow.
Other debutants in the field include Ireland’s Philip Walton and Scotland’s Stephen McAllister, who between them secured five European Tour titles. Both will now be looking to follow in the footsteps of Gary Wolstenholme, winner of 2011 Rookie of the Year award after finishing fourth on the Order of Merit in his maiden Senior Tour campaign.
Designed by Europe’s current Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, Pula Golf Club has hosted seven European Tour events including both editions of the Iberdrola Open, won by Ryder Cup stars Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland (2011) and Sweden’s Peter Hanson (2010).