Gary Wolstenholme will be hoping to complete a Spanish double as he travels to the Benahavis Senior Masters in two weeks’ time brim-full of confidence after his victory at the season-opening Mallorca Open Senior last week.
The Englishman claimed his second professional win in Mallorca after a final round of 69 sealed a two shot victory over the chasing trio of Mike Harwood, Paul Wesselingh and Chris Williams at Pula Golf Club.
It was a perfect start to the year for the 51 year old after a superb first full season on the Senior Tour which earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Despite not adding to his first victory at the 2010 Casa Serena Open, the six-time Walker Cup player only missed one cut in 21 appearances, racking up nine top ten finishes.
Indeed, the closest he came to victory last year was at the Benahavis Senior Masters, where he led going into the final day but finished tied second, three shots behind Carl Mason as the Senior Tour’s all-time leading money winner claimed his 25th Tour title.
Wolstenholme will be hoping to go one better this year as he attempts to build on his fine start to the season at La Quinta Golf and Country Club on the southern coast of Spain, just outside Marbella.
But his task has been made harder by the presence of 26 players from the top 30 of last year’s Order of Merit, who comprise what is arguably the strongest field in the tournament’s history.
The man whom Wolstenholme shared second place with last year, former Ryder Cup Captain Mark James, will be searching for his first win since 2009 – which came, coincidentally, at the Mallorca Open Senior.
Mason will return to a tournament which has brought him so much success as he aims to make it three Benahavis Senior Masters titles in the space of four years while Peter Fowler, the 2011 John Jacobs Trophy winner, also attends, in search of his third Senior Tour victory.
Amongst the local favourites at La Quinta will be the former Ryder Cup star who designed the course over which the Senior Tour’s third tournament of the season will be played, Manuel Piñero.
Four-time Senior Tour winner Juan Quiros is also in the field, as are his fellow Spaniards José Maria Cañizares, Antonio Garrido and Miguel Angel Martin, who will make his first appearance at the Benahavis Senior Masters having turned 50 earlier this month.
The fourth edition of the Benahavis Senior Masters has been moved to a new date on the Senior Tour Schedule, from October to the much earlier time of June 1 - 3, and has also benefitted from an increased prize fund of €200,000.Entry to the tournament is free.