Four years after staging an historic and dramatic Ryder Cup, Wales will welcome some of the game’s all-time greats to it shores this week as the country hosts The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex for the first time.
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club will be the sublime setting for the 28th edition of The Senior Open, with the Bridgend links becoming the 12th different course to host the Championship.
Welshmen Mark Mouland and Ian Woosnam will undoubtedly have the home support behind them, but there is also likely to be considerable backing for a Scot bidding to create history.
Wales could provide the backdrop to another illustrious chapter in the career of Colin Montgomerie, as the man who led Europe to Ryder Cup glory at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010 aims to complete a personal ‘Grand Slam’ of Majors on the European Senior Tour in 2014.
Having already captured the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and the US Senior Open Championship, Montgomerie can become the first European – and only the second player in history after South African Gary Player in 1988 – to complete the clean sweep.
Montgomerie will be joined in the field by his opposing captain from four years ago, Corey Pavin, who is part of a strong American contingent that has crossed the Atlantic.
Tom Watson, the current US Ryder Cup Captain, will be targeting a record fourth Senior Open crown, having previously lifted the senior Claret Jug in 2003 at Turnberry, in 2005 at Royal Aberdeen and in 2007 at Muirfield, while Fred Couples will be hoping to regain the title he won at Turnberry in 2012.
Defending champion is Mark Wiebe, who defeated Germany’s Bernhard Langer in a play-off 12 months ago at Royal Birkdale following the Championship’s first Monday finish.
Langer, who had held a two shot lead playing the 72nd hole, will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of missing out on that second Senior Open victory by triumphing in Wales, the country where he claimed the first of his 42 European Tour titles, winning the Dunlop Masters at St Pierre Golf Club in Chepstow 34 years ago.
Another prolific European Tour winner in the field is Miguel Angel Jiménez, who makes his debut in a Senior Major after turning 50 in January. The Spaniard, who is still hoping to be part of Paul McGinley’s European Team at Gleneagles in September, won his first event as a senior golfer on the US Champions Tour in April, a week after finishing fourth in the Masters Tournament, and extended his record as the oldest winner on The European Tour with victory in the Open de España in May.
Royal Porthcawl hosted the Coral Welsh Classic on The European Tour three times between 1980-1982, and the Wales Senior Open in 2009, 2010 and 2013, as well as the 1995 Walker Cup, featuring Tiger Woods, when Great Britain and Ireland beat the USA by 14-10.
It will host the Senior Open Championship two more times before 2024, and Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, is looking forward to having some of the game’s most iconic names tackle one of the country’s most revered links courses.
He said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome players and spectators to The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at the world-renowned Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. This is the first Senior Major Championship to be held in Wales and reinforces Wales’ reputation as a world-class events destination.
“We are delighted to welcome world stars such as Tom Watson, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Colin Montgomerie, Freddie Couples and Bernhard Langer, who will join our very own Ian Woosnam. We are confident that everyone will enjoy what promises to be a great week of golf at Royal Porthcawl, and we wish good luck to everyone taking part.”