Steen Tinning thought he was finished with golf when he left The European Tour ten years ago, but having rekindled his competitive spirit through triathlons and Ironman events, he is flourishing again on the Senior Tour.
The Dane is in action in this week’s WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany – a country which has brought him great success in the last month. First came his maiden Senior Tour victory at the beginning of August in the Berenberg Masters in only his sixth appearance, and the week after he completed a half Ironman at the European Championships in Wiesbaden, consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run.
Having recovered from the exertions of that fearsome challenge, Tinning had two good performances at the SSE Scottish Senior Open and the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters – coming tied tenth and tied 12th respectively – and so arrives at WINSTONgolf near Hamburg with a spring in his step.
“It was great to win,” said the 50 year old, who is currently third in the Senior Tour Order of Merit. “I’d been playing very consistently, but you never know until you are up there. It was many years since I last won on The European Tour, so it was really, really good for the confidence. Next time I’m in the same position I can draw on that experience.
“It always makes a big difference winning tournaments. It’s a huge boost to the motivation levels and for practice. It makes you want to achieve even greater things.
“I never thought I would play on the Senior Tour. I felt like I was done with competing when I quit the main Tour back in 2003. I thought ‘This is it, after 16 years I’ve had enough’. I was certain that was it.
“But then doing triathlons got me into the mode of competing and I was reminded of the buzz you get from competitions. So I thought that if I was going to do it, I had to prepare physically. That started at the end of 2009, trying to get ready for being back on tour again.
“The half Ironman went really well. I don’t get to train as much as I’d like, and I haven’t done a full one this year because it takes an awful lot more training than the half.”
Combining playing, practising and training for triathlons is a daunting prospect for most, but Tinning, a two-time winner of The European Tour, is driven to keep achieving.
“I get up early in the morning and get almost all the training done before the golf. Then I’ll come and practise or play or whatever, and I might do a swim or run in the evening too.
“I love the three different disciplines. I’ll have a crack at Hawaii (the Ironman World Championships) in the future – I don’t know when, but time will tell.”
As for this week’s event, it may be in Germany, but that is where the similarities with the venue of his Berenberg Masters victory end.
“This course here is wide open,” said Tinning. “The course in Cologne was tree-lined and very tight, so this is a different prospect altogether. I haven’t actually played the course yet – the pro-am will be the first time I see it.
“But we have excellent weather again and we are chasing a white ball around with 14 sticks, so in that respect it’s very similar!
“I’m really enjoying the Senior Tour. It’s nice to see all the guys and it’s a relaxed atmosphere. Everyone is keen to play well and do well. With the fields not being 156 players, there’s always space on the range and on the putting green.”