Because there’s only so many hours in the day, I’ve found it impossible to follow the Seniors scene as diligently as the two main tours. This is a great shame, as betting experience from recent years suggests these tournaments are an absolute goldmine. The Seniors British Open in particular has been an easy puzzle to solve recently. Of the last five winners, the three titles for TOM WATSON were easy picks, as was the successful favourite in 2006, Loren Roberts.

Its easy to explain why. Links golf is always a little easier to sort out, as it separates the best links players from the rest. More importantly at seniors level, the number of players who are capable of getting competitive on a typically brutal links course barely reaches double figures. Usually we see clear separation between the leaders and the rest, with the favourites looking the archetypal value each-way bet where a place, or at least strong contention for a place, is guaranteed.

This year’s renewal has an added bit of spice after Greg Norman’s quite incredible performance at Birkdale. Apparently he only headed to Lancashire to warm-up for this, having hardly practiced of late. Obviously a repeat performance of that would make him a mortgage job against his fellow seniors, but I’m sceptical he will immediately reproduce that form.

My doubts don’t stem from a lack of fitness. By the look of his Birkdale demeanour, he’s as fit as players ten years younger. And Kenny Perry is living proof that age need not be a handicap in golf. Rather my concern is that, while Birkdale form is obviously a useful guide for another links test, regular tour form doesn’t always transfer so clearly.

A critical aspect of seniors golf is that the holes are shorter than the main tour. So players who retain all their class while losing their length often find it easy to resume their old winning ways once they enter the Seniors Tour. Norman didn’t slip down the rankings for this reason, rather it was a wider decline in his game. Even last week, he ranked 37th for driving distance, proving he can still contend on full-length golf courses when it all clicks into place. But on his rare Seniors outings, Norman hasn’t looked a class apart by any means. In fact on these shorter holes I doubt he’ll match the likes of Watson and BERNHARD LANGER.

Langer is the classic emerging senior. He remains dangerous on the main tour, as 15th place in this year’s ’5th Major’ at Sawgrass illustrates. If it wasn’t for his lack of driving distance compared to the younger players, I reckon he’d still regularly be a factor at least in Europe. So it comes as no surprise that he’s readily assumed the favourites tag amongst the over-50s. He’s twice a winner this year, and twice a runner-up on the Champions Tour. And remember he has all the qualities required to compete on a links course, making the frame twice in the Open this century, most recently in 2005.

Now that Loren Roberts, the 2006 champion, has pulled out, I really fancy a reverse forecast of Langer and Watson, who is aiming for his fourth title in six years, to add to his five ‘proper’ Open titles. Quite simply, Watson is one of the all-time links greats if not the best ever.

Watson proved he retains that links brilliance is retained at Birkdale. He played in the hardest early morning first-day conditions, when the likes of Ernie Els were hitting 80. 58 year-old Watson, despite being severely handicapped by his lack of distance, managed a superb 74, one of the best rounds that morning. And if you require further evidence of recent form, consider that Watson won on penultimate seniors start.

One more each-way bet makes some appeal, on Argentinian EDUARDO ROMERO. Always a great wind player, he’s finished 4th, 2nd, 9th and 4th in four attempts at Seniors Opens. Having won his last Champions Tour start, ’El Gato’ looks sure to be a contender once again.

>>See my full preview of the Canadian Open

>>See my full preview of the Russian Open

ADVISED BETS

BRITISH SENIORS OPEN

5pts ew BERNHARD LANGER @ 13/2 (GENERAL, 7/1 CENTREBET)

4pts ew TOM WATSON @ 8/1 (GENERAL, 9/1 LADBROKES)

2pts ew EDUARDO ROMERO @ 14/1 (GENERAL, 16/1 PAGEBET)

LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED

2008 VOLVO ORDER OF MERIT

10pts HENRIK STENSON @ 7/1

4pts PAUL CASEY @ 14/1

USPGA TOUR MONEY LIST

BETTING WITHOUT TIGER WOODS

2pts ew KJ CHOI @ 33/1

1pt ew TREVOR IMMELMAN @ 80/1

2007/2008 STATS: +541pts