Thursday, June 04, 2009

Seniors Tour heads to Ireland

Sam Torrance will draw on his extensive links golf experience as he attempts to close the gap at the top of the European Senior Tour Order of Merit in the Irish Seniors Open in association with Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank at Ballybunion Golf Club. Fresh from playing in the first Senior Major Championship of the season, the US Senior PGA Championship, the Scot resumes the race for the John Jacobs Trophy in County Kerry as the Senior Tour begins a trilogy of links tournaments, with the Jersey Seniors Classic and Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open to follow. Torrance currently trails fellow former Ryder Cup Captain Mark James by €35,449 in the Order of Merit and The 2002 Ryder Cup Captain he will view it as the perfect opportunity to make up ground with a prize fund of €350,000 on offer. The winner of the DGM Barbados Open is chasing his second Irish Seniors Open crown after winning the title in 2006 to add to his two Irish Open victories on The European Tour in 1981 and 1995. He said: “The field looks very strong and Ballybunion promises to be a magnificent place to visit and I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing one of Ireland’s great links courses.” Ian Woosnam, the 2008 leading Senior Tour player, will look to kick start his own season in the event where he moved to the top of the Order of Merit for the first time last year after finishing tied ninth –with Torrance - at Ballyliffin Golf Club. Welshman Woosnam has also enjoyed a significant amount of success on the Emerald Isle having won back-to-back Irish Open titles in 1988 and 1989, as well as leading Europe to Ryder Cup glory at The K Club in 2006. Spaniard Juan Quiros defends the title he won 12 months when he produced a sublime approach on Ballyliffin’s final hole to finish one stroke ahead of home favourite Des Smyth. Quiros won his third Senior Tour title in as many years in blustery conditions last year en route to finishing fourth in the Order of Merit and returns to Europe having made the cut in last month’s US Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club. Roger Chapman, who posted the ninth hole in one of his career and second in a Major Championship in Ohio, will hope to build on his fine start to his Senior Tour career after finishing third in Son Gual Mallorca Senior Open on his debut after leading going into the final round. Irishman Eamonn Darcy finished runner up for the eighth time in his Senior Tour career in Mallorca after losing a play-off to James and he will lead the home challenge at Ballybunion along with Smyth and Jimmy Heggarty. Former Ryder Cup player Smyth, who is back playing full time in Europe this season after splitting his schedule for six years with the US Champions Tour, is hoping to go one better than last year when he felt he should have won his national Senior Open title. “Juan played a fantastic shot on the last but I should have had it all sewn up by then,” he said. “The weather beat me. It blew a hurricane. If my game is on I have every chance of winning. “I think it’s good that we have the Irish Seniors Open on a links course and I’m sure my fellow senior professionals will enjoy it.” It is the 13th edition of the Irish Seniors Open and the 6598 yards, par 71 Old Course at Ballybunion is widely regarded as links golf in its purest form and features the signature 453 yard par four 11th hole, named ‘Watsons’ in recognition of Ballybunion’s Millennium Captain and Honorary Life Member, Tom Watson.

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