Comment: What state is the European Senior Tour in?December, 2015
Monty, Wesselingh and the future of the Tour
This week the Constance Belle Mare Plage resort in Mauritius hosts the European Senior Tour season-ending MCB Tour Championship. Here are five things to look out for…
How much is Monty enjoying his Indian Summer?
A lot. Turning 50 has suited him. Two years ago at this event he talked of having been initially surprised at the standard of golf, but once he got to grips with that he not only pulled his socks up but found himself reinvigorated.
On the European Senior Tour alone he has thrived in the last two and a bit years, winning seven times in just 15 starts. He won the Order of Merit last year and has done so again this season.
Over in America on the Champions Tour he has found a subtly different happiness. He’s a three-time winner of senior majors, finished second only to Bernhard Langer on this year’s money list and seems to be enjoying the lifestyle, talking of his roadtrips between events and the new found fondness for him the galleries have discovered.
He’s eyeing the win this week, after two near misses the last two years, hoping to maintain his Indian Summer in the Indian Ocean.
Will Paul Wesselingh complete the hat-trick?
The Lancastrian’s story is an engaging one, and completely at odds with traditional notions of the Senior Tour. Unlike the many journeymen sustaining the journey, or superstars adding to the pension pot, Wesselingh was a club pro most of his career.
His tale is even more interesting than that, though, because at the age of 16 he was no better than a 12-handicapper. But after a few years in an office job he quit to coach golf, kept at it and in his thirties dallied with Q School. “I wasn’t really good enough though,” he admits.
But he was too good for minor tour golf as well, racking up wins on the PGA regional circuits so in his mid-40s he eyed the senior ranks and got himself fit.
And it all paid off. He’s an eight-time winner on tour and is seeking the hat-trick at this year’s MCB Tour Championship. He’s come along way from that 12-handicap nearly 40 years ago.
Broadhurst or Zhang: who will win Rookie of the Year?
The man with a 63 in a major (still the equal record lowest in history, Broadhurst’s coming in the 1990 Open at St Andrews) versus the first-ever Chinese winner on the European Tour, with Peter O’Malley (7-under-par through the last five holes to win the 1992 Scottish Open) as outsider. It’s a decent line up for this year’s new “boys“.
What is the future of the European Senior Tour?
As impressive as Monty’s stats have been since hitting 50, the fact he has already sewn up this year’s John Jacobs Trophy in just four starts is a worry: it highlights the unbalanced nature of the schedule, which includes a couple of American majors, plus the many distinctly less lucrative home tournaments.
The schedule this year is down to just 12 events. It’s not difficult to hear grumbling amongst the players and the paucity of starts is why Wesselingh and Barry Lane have been to Japan to fill in the gaps (Wesselingh has made 10 starts in Japan).
The main tour struggles to find sponsors for the middling events and the knock-on effect is felt by the seniors. Lose one or two more events and the schedule will be a part time one. It’s worrying time for the seniors this side of the Atlantic.
Snack time: halfway hut or (very) fresh produce?
There is a halfway hut on the Legends course at Constance Belle Mare Plage and rather nice it is too – a little safari hut come cocktail bar.
But the caddies also do something a little unique – they pluck fruit and spices from the trees. Did you know fresh tamarind tastes exactly like Refresher sweets? It does and it is appropriately refreshing too.