American Loren Roberts may have secured his first Major title on the Champions Tour by winning the British Senior Open at Turnberry last weekend, but the man who has won more Senior Majors than anyone else was more keen to discuss the future of the Tour in the aftermath of the event yesterday.
South African Gary Player (pictured) was one of the original competitors on the Champions Tour at its inception in 1980, when it was known as the PGA Seniors Tour. His eight Major victories in the Senior sphere is a record, and an even more impressive statistic is that he won nine Major championships on the regular PGA Tour. He won the Open Championship in three different decades and is one of only five men, alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to win each of the four recognised Major tournments proper.
The 70 year-old has been one of the Champions Tour’s most consistent and reliable supporters, and the impending eligibility of some of golf’s biggest names in the next year or two is exciting him. Multiple Major champions Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price and Mark O’Meara will be available to play on the Tour in 2007 and are likely to feature regularly. By 2009, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Tom Lehman, Fred Couples and Paul Azinger will be able to join them.
“To have these fellows coming along is going to be a great addition, so the Tour’s looking very healthy,” Player told the media on Monday.
Player was also keen to remind everyone that the Tour is ultra-competitive, and he warned the potential new recruits that winning would not come easily to them if they don’t put in the hours on the practice ground.
“I think Bernhard Langer will do very well because his game’s in great shape,” Player predicted.
“I think Seve [Ballesteros] and [Nick] Faldo will both struggle initially. They’ve both been great players, so the only reason I say this is because neither of them has put all their time into their golf recently. Bernhard Langer, on the other hand, is putting in lots of time and he will probably do very well from the start.”