Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, the men who led Europe and the United States respectively in the dramatic 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort, are preparing to renew their rivalry on Welsh soil after confirming they will be part of the field for The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, from July 24-27.
The pair will be joined at the Bridgend Links by the current U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Tom Watson, as well as one of Montgomerie’s winning team, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez, who will make his debut in The Senior Open Championship.
Montgomerie made his own first appearance in the prestigious Championship at Royal Birkdale last year, finishing tied 21st, and after winning his maiden European Senior Tour title in the Travis Perkins Masters at Woburn Golf Club last September, he is looking forward to another challenge for a Senior Major title.
“We’re all excited to go down to Royal Porthcawl,” said the 50 year old. “It’s the first time The Senior Open has gone to Wales and I hear it is a fantastic golf course. I’ve haven’t played there, but I’ve heard from my Welsh colleagues on Tour how good a course it is and we look forward to playing there.
“I also look forward to going back to Wales. I obviously had success there four years ago even though I didn’t hit a shot. It was the team that won The Ryder Cup, but it will be nice to go back. Any time I cross the Severn Bridge I feel a million dollars, I really do.
“When you see the guys who are playing there it is fantastic. You have Jiménez making his debut, and Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer. The standard of golf will be very competitive again.
“The Senior Open is a superbly-run event. It’s an R&A event, the week after The Open itself, and we are very fortunate. Rolex are a great sponsor of the Championship and it feels like a Major, it really does. We are very grateful to everyone for supporting the event. All the top Americans come over and participate and it is great to see them.”
With Wales hosting a Senior Major Championship for the first time, the eight-time European Number One is urging the Welsh public to get behind The Senior Open just as they backed The Ryder Cup so passionately, when Europe defeated the United States 14½-13½ following a historic Monday finish.
He said: “My mother’s Charity, the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation, has supported the new Maggie’s centre in Cardiff for sufferers of cancer in Wales and I’ve had some great support wherever I’ve been in Wales, playing in the Wales Open and of course in The Ryder Cup, so I look forward to playing there again. And hopefully I can look forward to more success, fingers crossed.”
Pavin, who captured the 1995 US Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills after playing one of the greatest shots in the event’s history at the 72nd hole, is relishing the opportunity to return to Wales, four years after the epic Ryder Cup contest over the Twenty Ten Course.
He said: “It will be good to go back. When I went there as Ryder Cup captain, the people of Wales were fantastic - very welcoming and very friendly. I'm looking forward to getting over there again in July, and I've heard a lot about the golf course so I would like to see it as well.“
Pavin admitted he has some warm memories of his visits to South Wales before and during The Ryder Cup. He added: “There was a lot of respect, I thought, from the people in Wales. Obviously they wanted Europe to win The Ryder Cup, but they were very respectful and very nice. Everything we needed and asked for they provided. It was a very, very easy relationship.”
In terms of the host venue for the Senior Open Championship, Pavin will be starting from scratch when he arrives at the Bridgend links. He said: “I don't know anything about it other than the fact that it's right on the water. I believe they played the Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl some years ago and an event on the European Senior Tour last year.
“I’ve heard other players talk about it and it sounds very challenging, especially if the wind comes up. I expect to find a very difficult golf course.”
First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said: “Our reputation as a golfing nation goes from strength to strength. We have already proven that we have the facilities, venues, and infrastructure to host top quality, international golf. This, however, will be a particularly special tournament for us as it’s the first time for Wales to host a Major, and it will be a particular pleasure to welcome both Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin back to Wales.
“Royal Porthcawl is a wonderful course and I’m sure the area will also provide an excellent base for visitors to experience all that Wales has to offer, including unsurpassed scenery and great attractions. I’m delighted to have been able to play a part in bringing The Senior Open to Wales and we look forward to offering everyone a very warm Welsh welcome once more.”
American Mark Wiebe won The 2013 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Birkdale, defeating two-time Masters Champion Langer in a play-off.Tickets for The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl can be bought online via www.senioropengolf.com or by calling +44 (0)800 0232557, with details of hospitality packages also available.
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