Senior Open returning to Turnberry

Tom Watson must have been jumping for joy on Monday – the Senior Open is set to return to Turnberry in 2012

Tom Watson might well have been jumping for joy on Monday when it was announced that the British Senior Open is set to go back to Turnberry in 2012.

The famed Ailsa Course at the Ayrshire resort in Scotland will host the final of next year’s four over-50s Majors.

It will be the seventh time the Senior Open has bee, hosted by Turnberry and will make it the events most used venue ahead of Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland which has hosted six.

The venue for the for the first British Senior Open won by Neil Coles in 1987, Turnberry was also the scene of Gary Player’s victories there in 1988 and 1990.

New Zealand left hander Bob Charles won his senior Open title there in 1989 before Watson, already a winner of an Open title there following his famous ‘Duel in the Sun’ with Jack Nicklaus in the 1977, won a play-off with Carl Mason in 2003 to add a Turnberry over-50s Open to his ’77 triumph.

Another American, Loren Roberts was the Senior Open winner on the championship’s last visit to Turnberry in 2006

Watson, in the meantime, had also got within a whisker of becoming the oldest-ever winner of the Claret Jug when he led for much of the way at the 2009 Open Championship only to come short in his play-off against eventual winner Stewart Cink.

“Yes, the Ailsa Course has provided some of golf’s most memorable moments over the years and, hopefully, we will once again experience the magnificent support of the Scottish golf fans, just as we did the last time The Senior Open Championship visited the Ayrshire coast in 2008 when we had record crowds at Royal Trogon,” said David Hill, the R&A’s director of championships.

Watson, of course, also won the infamous ‘Duel in the Sun’ with Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 Open Championship at Turnberry before coming close to lifting the Claret Jug there again in 2009, when he lost in a play-off to Stewart Cink at the age of 59.

“Turnberry is delighted to welcome The Senior Open Championship back to the Ailsa course in 2012,” said Stewart Selbie, the resort’s general manager, of an event that will be held on 26-29 July. “Following the success of the 2009 Open, it is entirely fitting that our next major should be the Senior Open, a tournament which has such a strong connection with the Ailsa course over the years. This announcement confirms Turnberry’s position as a great venue for major Open Championships.”

Councillor Bill McIntosh, leader of South Ayrshire Council, added: “Turnberry is an iconic golf location and I am thrilled The Senior Open Championship is returning to South Ayrshire next year.”

Bernhard Langer won last year’s event at Carnoustie and, though the 25th staging is being held at Walton Heath this July, the return to Turnberry 12 months later is being welcomed in the build up to the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

“The Senior Open Championship is one of Scotland’s most prestigious regular golf tournaments,” said Paul Bush OBE, chief operating Officer for EventScotland. “We are delighted to see it return next year with significant benefits for Turnberry, South Ayrshire and the wider ‘home of golf’ expected. It is important for Scotland to maintain its support of these events as we prepare to host the Ryder Cup in 2014.”