Tom Watson relishing first visit to Wales for The Senior Open Championship
Tom Watson, one of the all-time golfing greats, will achieve a lifelong ambition in July when he sets foot on Welsh soil for the first time in the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl.
The 64 year old US Ryder Cup Captain had always hoped to find time to play the classic Welsh course during one of his many trips to Britain and Ireland around the time of The Open Championship but never managed to make the first tee.
However, with Wales hosting a Senior Major Championship for the first time from July 24-27, Watson will finally have the opportunity to sample Royal Porthcawl’s majesty and the man with five Opens and three Senior Open titles to his name, remarked: “Now I can check Porthcawl off my ‘bucket’ list!”
Watson, whose love affair with links terrain is well documented, illustrated last weekend that he is still hugely competitive as he closes in on his 65th birthday by chasing down Colin Montgomerie all the way to the finishing line in the US Senior PGA Championship.
The five-time Open Champion, who finished runner-up to Montgomerie in Michigan, will be making a number of high profile visits to the UK later this year, with the Senior Open sandwiched in between The Open at Royal Liverpool and his responsibilities as US Ryder Cup Captain at Gleneagles in September.
He is enjoying the twin roles of golfer and non-playing Captain immensely, but competing in the Senior Open Championship remains one of his main priorities for 2014. He said: “I have not been to Wales before, so this will be a brand new experience, but one I am really looking forward to.
“Many a time I would travel over early to Ireland and other places in the UK to play courses I’d never seen before - especially links venues – ahead of The Open Championship. Sadly, I never had the chance to visit Royal Porthcawl although it was on my menu of courses to play for a long time. So to play in the Senior Open means I can now check it off my bucket list.”
Watson added: “Thanks to the wonderful electronic age we live in, I’ve been able to trawl through the Royal Porthcawl website in detail and I can see that this is a magnificent golf course and one which I just can’t wait to play.”
Watson has also picked the brains of former Masters Champion Ian Woosnam to understand a little bit more about the course and the country which will stage the 2014 Championship in just under two months’ time.
He added: “Naturally, I watched the last Ryder Cup in Wales and just remember it being a bit wet! However, I’ve heard a lot of great things about Wales and Royal Porthcawl from Woosie and I understand the terrain is beautiful and that the golf in general is excellent, not just at Royal Porthcawl but in other locations throughout the country.
“Woosie said that it’s just a really, really great golf course and he predicted that I would love it. From the pictures I’ve seen on the Website and looking at the hole-by hole Stroke Saver guide, I can get a sense that he will probably be right!”
“I could see the lay out of the course and I noticed a lot of out of bounds on the left, so you had better not be hooking the ball come July!”
The confirmation of Watson’s appearance in Wales underlines the quality of the field on view at the Bridgend course in July, with both 2010 Ryder Cup Captains Montgomerie and Corey Pavin also competing along with Woosnam, past champions Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer, Senior Tour ‘rookie’ Miguel Angel Jiménez and 2013 title holder Mark Wiebe. Montgomerie arrives in Porthcawl having finally made his Major breakthrough in that duel with Watson in the US Senior PGA last week.
Tickets for The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl can be bought online via www.senioropengolf.com or by calling +44 (0)800 0232557, with details of hospitality packages also available.