PETER SENIOR and Peter Fowler will be Australia’s top hopes going into the 2011 Senior British Open early Friday but they face a tough task wresting the title from tournament favourite Tom Watson.
The just turned 62 year old American gave something of a masterclass while battling atrocious conditions at The Open at Royal St George’s on the weekend and says he was invigorated by the experience.
Watson will vying for a record fourth Senior Open Championship at Walton Golf Club in Surrey.
““I feel fresh,” Watson said yesterday (Wednesday) “I took the day off today, just hit some balls and practiced my short game a little bit today. But I played a practice round on Monday and played in the Pro?Am yesterday, but I feel as if I’ve got a pretty good handle on the golf course.
“The golf course is pretty straightforward, as far as knowing what to do. The bunkers and the heather are right there in front of you. They almost say, come here, come here, and you have to say no!”
Watson has fine-tuned his putting stroke in recent weeks and the eight-time Major Champion is delighted with the results.
“I putted well at The Open. That’s kind of a luxury for me to say that, because I had not been able to say that in a long time. That’s what gives me some excitement about coming here this week – the putter,” he said.
“I had not been able to say that for a long, long time, and so maybe, I hope this is not just a blip on the radar screen. I hope this is something that will last for a long time.”
The defending champion is Germany’s Bernhard Langer who is still recovering from surgery on an injured thumb (injured when pushing the button on a pedestrian crossing – once you turn 50 everything is out to get you!).
“Last week at The Open, it was pretty decent and it’s been about the same so far this week. My doctor’s with me and he’s given me physiotherapy every morning and every evening to try to get some movement back into it, and it definitely seems to be helping,” Langer said this week.
Whilst the 53 year old’s thumb might be causing him grief, no-one is doubting his mental strength.
Langer said: “The mental game is extremely important in golf. If you take two guys that have a similar technique and similar game of golf, the guy that is mentally stronger is always going to beat the other guy, every time. My mental strength has always been pretty good, and hopefully it can carry me through this week.”
Other big names in the field include Tom Lehman, coming off a very creditable T22 at The Open, Mark Cacavecchia, Tom Kite, Sandy Lyle, Mark O’Meara, Cory Pavin, Craig Stadler and Ian Woosnam.
Australians in the field include Senior, Fowler, Mike Harwood, Wayne Grady, Rodger Davis, David Merriman, Noel Ratcliffe and Wayne Smith.
Fowler seems to have overcome the injury problems that have dogged his career and with two recent wins on the European Senior Tour is in fine form.
Senior has been going gangbusters on the US Champions Tour and the current Australian PGA Champion would just love to add the Senior Open title to his credits.
The Queenslander, who turns 52 next week, is currently sixth and eighth on the European and US senior orders of merit respectively.
Harwood has also been in good form and is seventh on the European order of merit after three top ten finishes during June.
Merriman has had two top 10 finishes in Europe this year and is 22nd on the OOM while Davis was 12th at the ISPS Handa Senior World Championship at Mission Hills in China back in March and has been really working on his fitness and game of late.
Grady commentated at The Open last week and sure displayed a lot of knowledge about the game but it will be crunch time this week and a matter of Gesta Non Verba (Deeds not Words).
2011 British Senior Open Australian Television Times
The Senior Open is being broadcast live on Fox Sports. Unfortuneatly it is in night owl territory with the only replays currently scheduled being the final round on Monday afternoon.
1st Round Friday 2am to 4am
2nd Round Saturday 1.30am to 4am
3rd Round Sunday 12.30am to 4am
4th Round Monday 12.30am to 4am; Replay 1.30pm to 3.30pm2011 Senior British Open Leaderboard