Can Senior break his Champions Tour duck?
22 events played, 3 second place finishes (including 2 playoff losses), 12 Top 10s, over US$1.4 million to place 6th on the money list. All that was missing from Hope Island resident Peter Senior’s fantastic resume in 2011 was a maiden Champions Tour win.
As the Champions Tour season for 2012 kicked off in late January at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in Hawaii, Senior was biding his time back on the Gold Coast, preparing for his 3rd full season and hopefully that breakthrough victory.
A tie for 4th in the recent JBWere Australian Masters behind Ian Poulter showed that his game is still as sharp as ever.
The first full field event of the year will be February’s Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida in a season where some new venues and potentially some new tournaments, yet to be confirmed, were announced by the Tour.
Once again, Senior will fly the flag as Australia’s only full-timer on Tour with Greg Norman, Wayne Grady and recent Australian Legends Tour Championship winner Ian Baker-Finch all expected to play only a limited number of events in 2012.
A healthier Norman may play more than he’s been able to in recent seasons, in fact he has shown his intentions to do so by playing the Humana Challenge on the PGA Tour in January and again at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun, Mexico in late February.
Peter ‘Chook’ Fowler may also be making some appearances after topping the European Senior Tour money list in 2011.
The Aussie contingent may be encouraged to play more however as the venues for the Champions Tour majors in 2012 include golf courses where some have had career defining victories in the past.
The Regions Tradition will again be held at Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama where Grady won the 1990 PGA Championship, and the Senior British Open will be held at Turnberry in Scotland, where Norman clinched his 1st Major at the Open Championship in 1986.
One of the interesting developments in the 2012 season announcements was that discussions are being held with officials in Japan and China to establish Champions Tour events in those countries. The Tour are also hopeful of extending the existing arrangement with South Korea, where Jay Don Blake won the Songdo IBD Championship in 2011.
A Champions Tour ‘Asian Swing’ is a distinct possibility and one wonders down the track whether this could include a Champions Tour event in Australia as well? The excellent TV ratings in the United States for the Presidents Cup last November showed that American viewers were prepared to get up in the early hours (as Australian viewers have always done) if the product is good – which opens up the possibility of corporate interest from the US and other key markets.
Could you picture a Champions Tour event at Royal Melbourne for instance, featuring Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson and maybe a Davis Love III and Steve Elkington in a year or two??
Baker – Finch thinks it would be fantastic for Australian golf but concedes it may be unlikely. ‘It would cost a sponsor $3 – 5m’ he said.
“I think it would be fantastic to have a Champions Tour event in Australia. Perhaps Kingston Heath would like to host or one of the famous sand belt courses. Or perhaps Huntingdale and call it the Senior Masters?”
“It would be a huge boost for the Aussie Legends Tour and golf in general in Australia. The logical time would be to try and bring the Champs guys here in January after the Hawaii events.’”
Costly it may be but the LPGA are co-sanctioning this month’s Australian Women’s Open at the Composite course, with over 80 LPGA players making the trip down to play, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.
Bring it on but, first and foremost, ‘C’mon Pete’ – bring it home in 2012!