Jarmo Sandelin (Getty Images)
Former Ryder Cup player Jarmo Sandelin is looking to make the most of home comforts on his regular European Senior Tour debut at the European Tour Properties Senior Classic in Finland.
Sandelin, a Swedish citizen, was born in Finland and after making his over-50s bow at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in the United States, he will tee it up at Linna Golf in his first appearance on the continent since last year’s Real Club Valderrama Open de España.
“It’s always nice to come back to your roots,” said Sandelin, who turned 50 in May. “I only lived in Finland for four years, but all my relatives are from here.
“When I was born, in 1967, we didn’t have golf or know what it was. It’s incredible that that little boy, running around with a football, would go on to play in The Ryder Cup.
“I have travelled the world and Sweden is my home, but this is my birth place. I wish I could come here more often.”
The five-time European Tour winner is no stranger to the fairways of Linna Golf, after playing in the SK Challenge on the European Challenge Tour in 2009.
“This golf course is fantastic,” he said. “They have done an incredible job. The fairways are so good and the rough will be up because of the rain. The facilities are perfect, but hopefully the weather will get a little bit warmer.
“The course is a little bit shorter this time round, the par threes aren’t 220 yards – they have been shortened a little.
“The greens will be soft, so we can really go for it. There are plenty of opportunities to score.”
Although Sandelin missed the cut at the Senior PGA Championship by just one shot, he was pleased with his first performance on the over-50s circuit.
“My second round score didn’t reflect how I played,” he said. “I felt like I left a lot of shots out there, but it gave me a boost, knowing that I’m good enough to play with these guys. I played in a U.S. Senior Open Qualifier a few weeks ago and missed out by just one shot.
“I wouldn’t have flown to Orlando and back if I didn’t believe I could make it.”
Also making his Senior Tour debut is two-time European Tour winner Gary Orr. The Scotsman will join former John Jacobs Trophy winner Paul Wesselingh in the first group to tee off from the tenth hole at 10am on Wednesday morning
“I finished on the European Tour three years ago, and although I’ve not played any competitive golf since then, I’m looking forward to it,” said Orr. “I expect to be a bit rusty, so I need to get back into it and see where my game is.
“I’ve not seen some of these guys for a long time, so it’s nice to see them again and be amongst it all.”
Eight former Ryder Cup players and two Senior Major Champions are in the field, with Mark James, winner of the Constellation Senior Players Championship in 2004, teeing it up alongside Mark McNulty, winner of the Regions Tradition in 2007.
Chris Williams, winner of the first event of the season, the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq, will tee it up with former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr in Round One.