European Seniors Tour
The Senior Open Championship
Lowdown: A star-studded field heads to Royal Troon this week for the Senior Open Championship presented by Mastercard. Greg Norman will be looking to build on his incredible performance at Royal Birkdale last week, where he finished in a tie for third. The Great White Shark will be joined by a host of former Major champions including Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam. In fact, the field can boast 32 Major victories collectively from 20 different men.
Tom Watson is defending champion having won at Muirfield in 2007 by a single shot from Stewart Ginn and Mark O’Meara. He’s looking for a record fourth Senior Open title on a course where he won the Open Championship back in 1982.
Venue: Royal Troon, Ayrshire
Date: July 24-27
Course stats: 7,064 yards, par 71
Defending Champion (winning score): Tom Watson (par)
Thursday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Friday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Saturday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 2pm
Sunday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 2pm
Greg Norman – The 53-year-old will start the week as favourite following his epic performance at Royal Birkdale
Ian Woosnam – The Welshman will be keen to become the first European winner of the event since Tommy Horton in 1998.
Bernhard Langer – He’s won twice on the Champions Tour this season and would love to add this title to his impressive CV.
Key hole: 8th. The Postage Stamp is one of the most famous par-3s in world golf. It measures just 123 yards but the green is notoriously difficult to find and anything missing the surface will leave a treacherous up and down.
Skills required: Patience and course management. As with any links, Troon demands a straight, low ball-flight plus imaginative approach shots and a deft touch around the greens. The winner will plot his way round the course and will not be fazed by the odd dropped shot.
Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship
Until last season the Russian Open had a reputation for giving players their maiden European Tour victory. Marcus Fraser in 2003, Gary Emerson in 2004, Mikael Lundberg in 2005 and Alejandro Canizares in 2006 all secured their first Tour wins in this tournament. But, last year it was wily veteran Per-Ulrik Johansoon who came out on top. The 40-year-old took command of the tournament with a second round of 62 and didn’t relinquish his lead, going on to claim his first win for ten years.
Johansson will be back in Moscow to defend his title and will be joined by an eclectic field comprising European Tour and Challenge Tour players plus a number of sponsors invites including John Daly. The Wild Thing will be hoping to improve on his performance in the Open Championship last week. Daly shot 80 and 89 at Birkdale to finish in a tie for last place.
Venue: Le Meridien Moscow CC, Moscow, Russia
Date: July 24-27
Course stats: 7,154 yards, par 72
Defending champion (winning score): Per-Ulrik Johansson (-23)
Thursday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Friday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Saturday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 11am
Sunday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Danny Willett – When Alejandro Canizares won here in 2006 it was just his third start as a professional. Willett will be looking to emulate the Spaniard – it’ll be his fifth start as a pro.
Markus Brier – Runner-up in Austria last week. Brier will be looking to claim his first victory of 2008.
Robert-Jan Derksen – Finished second to Johansson here in 2007. The Dutchman hasn’t enjoyed the best season so far and will be looking to turn things around at a course he clearly enjoys.
Key hole: 17th. The second of two par fives in the last four holes. It measures 548 yards but is reachable with two solid shots – if it’s close down the stretch a birdie, or eagle, here could prove decisive.
Skills required: Scoring. Johansson won last year with a total of -23. The winner will have to go well under par in all four rounds.
RBC Canadian Open
Winless on the PGA Tour so far in 2008, Jim Furyk returns to the Canadian Open looking to make it three victories in a row in this famous old tournament. He would be the first man to achieve the feat. Off the back of a solid fifth place finish at the Open Championship last week, the 38-year-old will have to quickly adapt his game from the low knock-down shots required on the links at Birkdale to a more “target-golf” style demanded by Glen Abbey Golf Club in Ontario.
As the race for Ryder Cup and FedEx Cup points hots up the players are becoming anxious to record strong finishes so expect to see the big names coming out firing.
This will be the 98th running of the Canadian Open and Glen Abbey Golf Club has hosted the tournament a record 23 times. The course was used most recently in 2004 when Vijay Singh beat Mike Weir in a playoff.
Venue: Glen Abbey GC, Ontario, Canada
Date: July 24-27
Course stats: 7,222 yards, par 71
Purse: $5,000,000 Winner: $900,000
Defending champion (winning score): Jim Furyk (-16)
Thursday 24 – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Friday 25 – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Saturday 26 – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Sunday 27 – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Mike Weir – The left-hander is looking to become the first home winner of the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
Camilo Villegas – The Colombian showed more than a glimpse of his enormous potential with a, best of the week, 65 in the second round at Birkdale. He’ll be looking to take some of that form into this event.
Ken Duke – Runner-up in Milwaukee last week, Duke will be looking to continue that run and record his maiden PGA Tour victory.
Key hole: 18th. A 524 yard par five, it’s reachable in two for anybody in the field who gets a decent tee shot away. There’s definitely a possibility of someone recording an eagle three to win the tournament
Skills required: Transition – The players who competed last week at Royal Birkdale will have to quickly change their style of play from the knocked-down to the high floated shot. The PGA Tour regulars will have to adapt to playing in a different country.