Golf: School for Seniors: Interest indicates need for qualifying

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The Independent Online
THE oldies are going back to school. The PGA European Seniors Tour may be in its infancy in terms of concept but it is beginning to cut its teeth. A sufficient number of professionals aged 50 and over are interested in pursuing their careers to create the need for a qualifying school to be established.

It is anticipated that as many as 80 players will attend the school at Collingtree Park GC, Northampton, in a 36-hole tournament on 5 to 6 April. 'It is said that the Seniors Tour is made up of players with great futures behind them,' David Talbot, chairman of the Tour, said. 'We intend to change that.'

The extraordinary success of the Seniors Tour in America has indicated to Europe what is possible. When the European equivalent was tentatively started in 1991 it had three events. This year it will have at least 13, in eight countries, with prize-money in excess of pounds 1m.

There are four new events, including a Spanish and a Czech Seniors Open, and the highlight of the schedule is the Seniors British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes. Tony Jacklin, who won the Open Championship on the Lancashire links in 1969, will be eligible to enter. Jacklin, currently playing in America, will be 50 on 7 July, 13 days before the start of the British Seniors. Graham Marsh and Antonio Garrido will also be eligible and it looks as if officials have raided Somerset House to establish from records who is next in line.

'The strongest foundation has been laid for the future of the Seniors Tour,' Andy Stubbs, managing director, said. Stubbs, a former member of the regular tour, said his objective was to build a circuit of 25 tournaments. 'We will most certainly be in a position to announce an increased schedule for next year,' he added.

SENIORS SCHEDULE: 5-6 April: Qualifying school, Collingtree Park. 13-15 May: St Pierre Seniors Classic, St Pierre. 20-22 May: La Manga Club Spanish Seniors Open, La Manga. 17-19 June: Czech Seniors Open, Karlovy Vary. 24-26 June: Northern Electric Seniors, Slaley Hall. 30 June-2 July: Stockley Park Seniors Open, Stockley Park. 20-23 July: Senior British Open, Royal Lytham. 27-29 July: Lawrence Batley Seniors, Woodsom Hall ( pounds 65,000). 5-7 Aug: Forte PGA Seniors, Sunningdale ( pounds 75,000). 12-14 Aug: Belfast Telegraph Irish Senior Masters, Malone ( pounds 60,000). 23-25 Aug: Collingtree Park Seniors, Collingtree Park ( pounds 52,000). 2-4 Sept: Shell Scottish Seniors Open, Royal Aberdeen ( pounds 100,000). 22- 24 Sept: Zurich Senior Pro-Am/Lexus Trophy, Breitenloo ( pounds 47,000). 18-20 Nov: African Senior Masters, Windsor, Kenya ( pounds 65,000).