The great and the good of the Senior Tour have poured praise on Close House Hotel and Golf Club, which will this week stage the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.
The resort’s Colt Course, which was co-designed by Lee Westwood, takes over hosting duties from Stoke by Nayland, the Essex venue where Santiago claimed his debut Senior Tour title 12 months ago.
Luna is this week bidding to follow in the footsteps of Paul Wesselingh, who successfully defended the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors title in 2013.
Luna and Wesselingh have been joined in Newcastle by Carl Mason, the Senior Tour’s most prolific winner, who labelled the condition of the course as “superb”.
Mason, who has won the £260,000 tournament three times, added: “This event has been very kind to me, and I’m playing OK. I’m not as young as I was, but I can still hit it and I am still hoping to be able to compete. I’d like to see some more of those ‘Mase the Ace’ headlines again!”
His fellow Englishman Mark James was also impressed with Close House, saying: “The course is in great condition, and as long as it stays dry it should play really, really well.
On his own prospects of winning the coveted title for the first time, James has been buoyed by an impressive run of recent results.
He said: “Physically I’m in good shape, and my game is too. In my first two tournaments this season I’ve finished in the top ten both times, so I’m looking forward to the tournament.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m one to look out for challenging this week, but I’d be disappointed not to get in the top ten if I play half decent. As for winning, there’s a lot of good players out here so the tournament will take a lot of winning, but I’ll give it a go.”
Scotland’s Gordon Brand Jnr also paid tribute to the high standard of competition in the over-50s ranks in this, his eighth season on the Senior Tour.
“The standard is very good,” he said. “There are a bunch of players in the top 20 who are all as hungry as each other to be up there, and that’s the fun of it.
“My own game is not too bad. I’ve only played twice this year, and I’m quite pleased with how it’s gone so far. There are no complaints and everything seems to be OK, but that could curse it!
“It’s my first time here, and first impressions are that it’s hilly! But we have played Slaley Hall which is up and down and I’ve done well there, so I don’t really mind.
“And the course is in great shape and the weather is glorious, so I am looking forward to the event.”
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