Bernhard Langer, winner of the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex in 2014 by a mammoth 13 strokes, believes that the links of Royal Porthcawl will offer a much sterner test this time round as golf’s superstars return to south Wales.
Langer set a new Senior Major record with his winning margin as Royal Porthcawl bathed in sunshine, but, with the weather forecast favouring wind and rain, the nine-time Senior Major winner believes things will be a lot tougher from July 27-30.
“I can’t predict the winning score,” said Langer. “Because I haven’t actually played the course the way it is now. The wind is about 20 to 25 miles per hour and I think the forecast is for that kind of wind throughout the week.
“I think the score will be over par, but I’ve been wrong before. I’m not a good forecaster. I’m a better golfer.”
Second in the field in 2014 was Colin Montgomerie, one of just five golfers to score better than par on the Welsh links that year.
Montgomerie, a three-time Senior Major Champion has won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship twice and added the U.S. Senior Open to his trophy cabinet in 2012. The Scotsman hopes to add the Senior Open Championship to his list of victories, but is wary of the stiff competition he faces this year.
“This course will be a massive challenge for everybody, both physically and mentally,” said Montgomerie. “Starting off with a hole that is dead into the wind, it will be driver, three iron or driver, three wood to start with, and that’s downhill.
“It was windy on Friday at The Open, but Birkdale is less exposed than this. I can’t see anybody breaking par if the conditions are like they were today. That’s not because we can’t play the game, we’re very, very good, but the elements are going to win.
“But it’s the winning score that counts, not how many under par you are. It’s not how many under par you are. You have to score less than everybody else. If it’s four 74s, it’s four 74s, but you’ve beaten the rest of them.”
Montgomerie is one of nine former Ryder Cup Captains and 30 former Ryder Cup players in the field.
“I think it’s a great field and it’s getting stronger every year,” he said. “It’s becoming tougher and tougher every year, and that’s why Bernhard has been beating the system hands down. He’s 60 in August, and you usually get just five years at this. So he’s given us all hope.”
Defending champion Paul Broadhurst, who won at Carnoustie last year by two strokes, is under no illusions as to the challenge he faces this week to retain the Senior Claret Jug.
“It’s not just Langer, the field is a really strong field,” he said. “The course is a really tough course, especially if we get the weather that is forecast. It will be interesting; I wouldn’t like to pick a winning score around here at the moment.”
Tickets are available online from www.senioropenchampionship.com or on the gate with Twilight Tickets allowing entry after 3pm, and a Youth Ticket for 16-24 year olds. Under-16s are admitted free.