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The Senior Open

Type:Golf

Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf club, Links Gate, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, FY8 3LQ

Tel: 01344 840550

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The Senior Open

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club is gearing itself up for another summer spectacular when Fylde’s most famous course hosts The Senior Open Presented by Rolex for the fifth time in the event’s 33-year history from July 25-28.

 

Last year, the Club hosted a hugely successful Ricoh British Women’s Open, when England’s Georgia Hall triumphed in the blazing sunshine.  Twelve months on, and it’s the turn of the legends of the game – the over-50 Senior players – to prove they’ve ‘still got it’ at an age when most professional athletes have long since retired.

 

The iconic venue, scene of 11 Opens down the years, will be the battleground for these masters of the links to demonstrate their brilliance in a setting which has historically produced some of golf’s greatest champions.

 

Royal Lytham & St Annes brought the late, great Seve Ballesteros to global prominence and now another Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jiménez, will defend the title he won by one shot from Germany’s Bernhard Langer, at the Old Course, St Andrews, in 2018.

 

Jiménez has his sights trained on emulating his late friend, Ballesteros, when he defends the title, attempting to follow in his countryman’s footsteps by winning at both The Home of Golf and Royal Lytham & St Annes.  “I’ve played well at Royal Lytham & St Annes and I like it very much,” he said.  “I hope I can do what Seve did there. He won there twice, but he also won another Open at St Andrews. Having won at St Andrews last year, I hope I can follow him and get another title at Royal Lytham & St Annes. That would be amazing.”

 

American Tom Lehman, who carried off the Claret Jug by winning The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1996, is set to return to the location which brought him global fame and fortune, while the 2001 champion at the same venue, David Duval, could also join Lehman among the 144-strong field.

 

Lehman, the American Ryder Cup Captain in 2006, held off the challenge of compatriot Mark McCumber and South Africa’s Ernie Els to land The Open crown 23 years ago. The 60-year-old is relishing the opportunity to return to Royal Lytham & St Annes seven years after his last appearance at The Open on the same golf course.  “It’s quite a golf course, a complete test,” said the American. “Like most links courses you have to drive it straight and there’s more than 200 bunkers out there. If you can find a way to avoid those you are ahead of the game, but it’s hard to do.

 

“When you get a chance to play Championship golf on some of the world’s greatest courses, there’s nothing like it. Any Open gets me interested, but this one sticks out in particular. I’ve not won The Senior Open. It would be great to win it, period. But it would be somewhat fulfilling to do it at the same venue where I won The Open.”

 

There is no doubting the quality of the golf on show during the last week in July. An already outstanding cast will be augmented by newcomers to the Senior ranks, past Open winners, Darren Clarke and Paul Lawrie and a pair of U.S. Open Champions in Michael Campbell and Retief Goosen.  Goosen, winner of the U.S. Open in 2001 and 2004, said: “The standard of competition at this level is still so high, and I’m looking forward to testing myself against the players who have continued to excel on the over-50s Tours.  “The likes of Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and the defending champion Miguel Ángel Jiménez have set the standard over the last few years and they are continuing to raise the bar.”

 

Cambell, who fended off Tiger Woods to win the 2005 U.S. Open, can’t wait to mix it with his contemporaries again after reaching his 50th birthday in February.  “What I’ve missed over the last six years since retiring is competing,” said Campbell. “I think it’s in my genes to get out there and just do the best I can. It’s going to be so, so exciting for the fans, because obviously we had a shared fanbase at a certain time. For them to see us again, out there in the same field, it’s exciting.”

 

Montgomerie, an eight-time European No.1, has already won three Senior Majors since turning 50, but the Senior Open continues to elude him. He remains one of the leading home challengers, along with newcomers Clarke and Lawrie.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to Royal Lytham. It’s a very fair golf course and I went close there in The Open in 2001,” said Clarke, who finally landed the Claret Jug exactly ten years later.

 

The last three Senior Open champions have all hailed from Europe, with Paul Broadhurst winning at Carnoustie Golf Links in 2016, Langer at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in 2017 and Jiménez in the first Senior Open at St Andrews last year, and Clarke hopes to see the trophy remain in European hands.  “It’s very special for us to have the opportunity to compete on these fantastic golf courses. I have great memories of playing Royal Lytham.”  “Over the last few years, Miguel, Bernhard and Paul have played some superb golf to win the Senior Open trophy and the number of guys who travel from around the world to play just shows how important The Senior Open is on our calendars.

 

“These are the guys who I grew up playing golf with and against. That hunger to compete doesn’t leave you and I’ve really been enjoying playing as a senior, getting used to it, and I’m excited about my first Senior Open.”

 

Lawrie, who stunned the golfing world by winning The Open at Carnoustie 20 years ago this summer, added: “I’ve seen the success that the guys have had in senior golf and I’m looking forward to having the chance to emulate their achievements.”

Under-16s go free accompanied by an adult. Parking is also free. For tickets, visit: www.europeantour.com/tickets

 

Images supplied by Getty Images

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