THE first major on the 2012 senior golf calendar gets underway overnight with four Aussies teeing it up at the Senior PGA Championship in Michigan.
US Champions Tour regulars Peter Senior and Graham Marsh will be joined by Senior European Tour stars Peter Fowler and Michael Harwood at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Harbor Shores course in Benton Harbour.
Defending champion Tom Watson is out with a wrist injury but there will be a host of well-known names among the 156 competitors competing for the title.
They include past Senior PGA Champions Michael Allen (2009), Jay Haas (2006, 2008), Hale Irwin (1996, 1997, 1998, 2004), Tom Lehman (2010), Mike Reid (2005), Tom Wargo (1993) and Denis Watson (2007).
There are also 15 Major champions including Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Steve Jones and Larry Mize.
With 18 top ten finishes and four second placings since joining the Champions Tour three years ago, Peter Senior is Australia’s best chance. First he has to overcome his frustrating failure to win in the US.
“It’s been a couple of years and I have had four or five really good opportunities to crawl over the line and haven’t done it so it is beginning to get on my mind a little bit that I haven’t won,” Senior told AAP this week. “A win in the US is the little holy grail for me and a major would just be a great thing to have on your CV. I know the more times you put yourself in that position the more chance you have of falling over the line. I was in the top 10 a lot last year (12 times from 22 events) and the game is in good shape. I’ve had a reasonable start to the year so I’m feeling good.”
The 52 year old believes the fact the course is comparatively new, it only opened in July 2010, will be a help.
“This is a fairly new course and most of the guys have never seen it before so it’s a great leveller in that regard,” he said. “It looks in great shape and the greens will be very difficult, they have a lot of slope and if the wind gets up it will prove pretty tough going.
“Normally guys have played a course a lot during their career and have learned where to miss it and where not to miss it but everyone will be a little blind this week and you could find yourself in some tough short-sided positions if you’re not careful. The harder the courses, the better I seem to finish so hopefully this is no exception.”
Perennial crowd favourite Fred Couples tied for second at the 2010 championship and was a winner earlier this year on the Champions Tour. After a reasonably sparse schedule lately the American was obviously feeling fresh.
“I don’t feel like I played much [this year], but I’ve played pretty well when I played and I’m excited to be here,” Couples said.
He had just played his first ever round on the course and echoed some of Senior’s comments.
“I think the golf course is long, but not ridiculous. There are a couple key holes, I think they’re more the par 4s. The par 5s are quality holes. You can’t get away with, certainly, a mishit tee shot or a second shot if you’re going for these greens.”
Australian television coverage
The event is being covered by Fox Sports in Australia with live coverage in the wee small hours for the night owls and later repeats during the day.
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