A record number of golfing luminaries will congregate in the famous town of St Andrews later this month for what promises to be a spectacular and unmissable Senior Open Presented by Rolex over the Old Course.
The iconic venue is poised to live up to its billing as the Home of Great Rivalries when it hosts the first Senior Open in its 32-year history from July 26-29. And the siren call of the Old Course has played a huge role in enticing the best field senior golf has witnessed on this side of the Atlantic.
The numbers this year are simply remarkable as the game’s legends line up to test their skills – in some cases for one last time – over the most renowned links golf course in the world.
There will be 22 winners of regular Major Championships and 24 who have claimed at least one Senior Major. A total of 40 Ryder Cup players from Europe and the United States, including 11 past captains from both continents, will tee up with nine Senior Open Champions, eight proud holders of the Claret Jug and five US Open Champions.
The world class quality of the 144-strong field is undeniable as St Andrews welcomes great names who have been unable to resist the lure of a Senior Open on the hallowed turf of the Old Course.
Leading the pageant are the 11 captains, namely Sir Nick Faldo, Mark James, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, José Maria Olazábal, Corey Pavin, Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam.
Of the eight Open Champions, no-one in the field can get close to the unrivalled record of Tom Watson, who has five Claret Jugs in the closet – but never one at the Old Course, despite some close calls. Like defending champion Bernhard Langer, Watson will be chasing a record fourth Senior Open title this month.
However, the field does contain the only two players who could walk away with the Senior Claret Jug to add to the regular versions they won on the Old Course in their prime. Faldo won the second of his three Opens with an imperious performance at St Andrews in 1990 while five years later, John Daly edged out Italy’s Costantino Rocca after a play-off. Both victor and vanquished are back on familiar territory again, 23 years on.
Even at the venerable age of 68, Watson is by no means the oldest swinger in town. Three-time US Open Champion Hale Irwin aims to roll back the years just a few weeks after his 73rd birthday, and 26 years after competing in his last Open at Muirfield.
Other faces making a rare appearance in the UK are Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry while Paul Broadhurst of England and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez both attempt to claim a second Senior Major of 2018. In Broadhurst’s case, he will be attempting to regain the trophy he won at Carnoustie in 2016.