Peter Mitchell returns to Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club for this week’s Speedy Services Wales Senior Open hoping to rekindle the form that he showed in defeating former Masters Champion Ian Woosnam to the title four years ago.
The Englishman was both the hero and the villain the last time the European Senior Tour visited Conwy back 2008, producing a superb performance in only his second event to win the biggest cheque of his career, but in doing so denying the home favourite Woosnam a popular victory.
Mitchell carded a final round 71 to finish two shots clear of the 2006 Ryder Cup Captain, who had won his maiden Senior Tour title in his previous appearance in Poland.
It was the first of three victories in the 2008 season for Mitchell, who went on to deny another former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance a home victory in the Scottish Senior Open before claiming the Lake Garda Italian Seniors Open a week later, again denying Woosnam victory.
“Winning at Conwy four years ago was great,” said Mitchell. “Obviously it was my first Senior Tour victory and it was nice playing with Woosie in the last round as he is such a good mate of mine.
“It was wonderful. That year I think I was the villain of everybody. It was Woosie in Wales and Sam in Scotland, so I probably wasn’t the most popular that year!
“All I had heard about was how tough the finish was here at Conwy, and apparently they have made some changes so I’m looking forward to seeing those. It’s great being back here. I would like it a little more linksy and bouncy, but it’s quite soft because of the weather.
“We had some great support out there the last time we here. Obviously a lot of that was for Woosie, but they were great. They weren’t too biased!”
Mitchell also revealed his plan to get even more support this time round – sporting the traditional Welsh red on his ball. The 54 year old uses a special Truvis patterned golf ball, which resembles a mini-football, and according to Mitchell, gives him an advantage at address.
“The pattern makes the ball look a little bigger and I really like them,” he said. “I used the blue ball the last time I was here, but I’m using the Welsh red this week.
“I actually prefer the red, as it looks even bigger. There are a few of us who use them now on the Senior Tour. I’ve been using them about five years now, and Gordon Brand Jnr and Gary Wolstenholme also do and now Philip Walton is using it for the first time this week. It makes a huge difference, especially in terms of your confidence in tight lies. They are great for TV too as you can see how much spin we get on the ball.”
Mitchell, who will play alongside Paul Wesselingh and Andrew Oldcorn at 11am in Friday’s first round, went on to finish third on the Order of Merit in 2008 – which was won by Woosnam – and sixth in 2009 after winning his fourth title in the Casa Serena Open in the Czech Republic.
But he returns to Conwy with fewer performances of note in recent times, with a share of eighth place in the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship his only ten top finish so far this season.
He attributes his loss of form to the change in rules regarding u grooves brought in during 2010, a change which he has yet to adapt to.
“I had a great first season, winning three times, and the second season was good too, winning once and I probably should have won more,” said the three-time European Tour winner.
“Then when I had to change the clubs it affected me. My clubs were banned and I’ve not founded any clubs with the v-grooves that were as offset as mine. So I’m struggling to make up a quarter of an inch each time – if I try to hit it high I hit it heavy, or if I hit down I hit it very clean. I’ve struggled a bit. But hopefully I can play well this week, just as I did four years ago.”
Joining Mitchell in the field again is Woosnam, fresh from back-to-back top ten finishes on Scottish soil, first in last month’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex and a share of fourth place in last week’s SSE Scottish Senior Open. Fellow Welshman Mark Mouland will also be looking to please the home support.
Englishman Roger Chapman, who is sponsored by tournament title sponsor Speedy Services, is also in the field as he looks to extend his lead at the top of the Senior Tour Order of Merit.
Chapman won the US Senior PGA Championship in May and made it a Michigan Major double last month when he captured the US Senior Open title.
The Speedy Services Wales Senior Open forms part of the Welsh Government’s support for golf which also includes The Senior Open Championship, hosted by Royal Porthcawl in 2014 and on two further occasions before 2024. The government’s support programme is part of the 2010 Ryder Cup legacy, following The Celtic Manor Resort’s staging of golf’s premier team competition two years ago.