Thursday 20th of July 2017 16:18
The qualifying event for this year’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex has attracted a huge number of entries, with over 420 players from almost 40 countries attempting to join legends such as Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam in the field at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.
Four courses - Ashburnham Golf Club, Machynys Peninsula Golf & Country Club, Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club and Southerndown Golf Club – will host the Monday qualifying event on July 24, with the total field across all the venues creating a diverse and high-quality competition.
With only 5% of the entrants hailing from Wales, it means that the other 95% represents a ‘league of nations’ travelling from all corners of the globe – including Algeria, Korea, Poland and Nepal – in search of approximately 40 spots earning access to the Championship from July 27-30.
Each venue will welcome in excess of 100 qualifiers, including more than 50 in total from the United States. The influx of more than 400 golfers, and the families and entourages accompanying them, will provide a significant economic boost to the Counties of Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire. This benefit will only increase during the week of the tournament, with tens of thousands of spectators expected for the 31st edition of the Championship.
For one man, the qualifying event at Pyle & Kenfig is especially significant. Peter Evans, the long-time and highly respected Head Professional at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, is hoping that the knowledge of that course acquired as a youngster can help him make up for lost time.
Evans, who had been at the club for 34 years, explained: “When the Senior Open was here in 2014, I missed out because my 50th birthday fell on the 29th of July – eight days after the event finished. It was incredibly frustrating, but I felt a bit better when I opened a lovely birthday card from no less than Tom Watson saying it was a shame my mother hadn’t been able to wait for another eight days! It was very amusing and a nice touch.”
Now approaching his 53rd birthday on the Saturday of this year’s Championship, Evans is attempting to qualify this Monday over the course which runs adjacent to Royal Porthcawl. He said: “I was a junior member of Pyle & Kenfig for seven years and won the Junior Championship there. I know my way around and hopefully that local knowledge will help.
“I would love to qualify because the course at Royal Porthcawl is spectacular at the moment – very similar to the look and feel we had in 2014. Of course, I am biased, but I can’t remember the course looking so well before a big event. I spoke to an American visitor here a few days ago who said it had been his best experience on a golf course. That means a lot to all of us here.”
Among those joining Evans at Pyle & Kenfig will be former PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions winner, Willie Wood, as well as Jesper Parnevik’s long-time caddie and professional golfer, Lance Tenbroeck.
Southerndown’s Director of Golf, John Peters, will take on the same challenge as Evans over his home course, which also brings some top names to the area. Mike Donald, runner-up to Hale Irwin in the 1990 US Open, is in the field along with Gary Hallberg, the American who finished runner-up to Fred Couples in the Senior Open at Turnberry in 2012.
Also at Southerndown is Ireland’s Philip Walton, who claimed the winning point for Europe in the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill.
All of those entering the 18-hole pre-cursor to the main event will hope to follow in the footsteps of American Pete Oakley, who came through the qualification process en route to a maiden Senior Major title in 2004 at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.
A variety of ticket options are still available along with hospitality packages. In addition to full price season and day tickets, the Senior Open Championship is offering Twilight Tickets (entry after 3pm) for Thursday, July 27 and Friday, July 28, priced £13.50 in advance or £15 on the gate. Young adults aged between 17-24 can purchase a Youth Ticket at a discounted price of £16.
Entry is free of charge for the Under-16s, accompanied by an adult, while parking close to the Royal Porthcawl course is also free.
For all tickets and more information, visit www.senioropenchampionship.com or call +44 (0) 800 023 2557.
About Visit Wales
Visit Wales is the Welsh Government’s tourism team. Visitors spend around £14 million a day whilst in Wales, amounting to around £5.1 billion a year. Visit Wales is responsible for formulating tourism policy, encouraging investment in, and improving the quality of the visitor experience in Wales. The team is also responsible for marketing Wales within the UK and internationally. The ambition of the Welsh Government’s tourism strategy for Wales is to grow tourism earnings in Wales by 10% by 2020. The Year of Adventure 2016 was the first in a series of thematic years, and provides focus for product development and the promotion of Wales. 2017 is the Year of Legends, and 2018 will be the Year of the Sea.
Wales is a golf destination with big ambitions. Since 2004, we’ve seen a 64% increase in the volume of golf visitors to Wales, while total related expenditure has risen by 79%These figures show the importance of golf to our economy and that hosting major golfing tournaments has played an important part in raising the profile of Wales as a golf destination.
About the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex
The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex will be played over the world-renowned links of Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, Wales for the second time in 2017.
The Championship has been officially recognised as a ‘Senior Major’ since 2003, when the event owners, the European Tour and The R&A, incorporated the Championship into the schedules of both the European Senior Tour and the PGA TOUR Champions. These organisations are also long time partners with Rolex, as part of the brand’s enduring support of golf, which marks its 50thanniversary in 2017.
Since its inauguration in 1987 at Turnberry in Scotland, the Championship has been hosted by the UK’s most prestigious and challenging courses, and celebrated its 30th edition in 2016 at Carnoustie, Scotland. The event returns to Royal Porthcawl three years after the club became the first Welsh venue to host Europe’s Senior Major, when Rolex Testimonee Bernhard Langer won the Championship for the second time.
Southerndown Golf Club
Ogmore by Sea