Montgomerie and co set to return to club

COMING TO TOWN: Former Europe Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is one of a number of recognisable seniors to be set to play at Stoke-by-Nayland PICTURE: Getty Images
COMING TO TOWN: Former Europe Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is one of a number of recognisable seniors to be set to play at Stoke-by-Nayland PICTURE: Getty Images

Europe’s leading senior 
golfers, including Colin 
Montgomerie, are set to 
dazzle at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club this summer.

The ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship is returning to the club on the Essex and Suffolk border in Leavenheath for a third time – with a host of big names, including the former Europe Ryder Cup captain, set to take part in June.

Defending champion Paul Wesselingh and a clutch of ex-Ryder Cup stars will take centre stage at the club, which previously staged the prestigious tournament in 2006 and 2007 when it was won by Sam Torrance and Carl Mason.

The 72-hole showpiece, the oldest on the European Senior Tour schedule dating back to 1957, will take place over Stoke-by-Nayland’s Gainsborough course from Thursday, June 5, to Sunday, June 8.

Susanna Rendall, managing director of Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel, Golf Club and Spa, added: “We are thrilled to host this prestigious event once again and are particularly pleased to welcome Europe’s best senior golfers back to our hotel and golf course.

“We feel we have both the experience and enhanced 
facilities to do justice to such a major European tournament and I am certain that players and spectators alike will have a wonderful few days in 
this beautiful part of the country.”

Reigning Senior Tour Order of Merit winner Wesselingh will be the man to beat as he bids to emulate legends Christy O’Connor and Neil Coles by lifting the title for a third successive year, following his triumphs at Slaley Hall and Mottram Hall.

Former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, who finished third behind Wesselingh last year, has been a regular competitor in the event while another Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie, is eligible to play for the first time, having turned 50 just two weeks after last year’s tournament.

PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said: “Having previously staged two championships at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club, we know we can be sure of a warm welcome and also an excellent test of golf for the best players.

“Last time it was contested, the competitors were full of praise for the course, particularly the greens, so we look forward to another exciting event.

“With an array of past Ryder Cup players in the field and the elite of European seniors golf, we look forward to another successful tournament and hope golf fans come and support the event.”

As part of their sponsorship of the tournament, ISPS has also backed an academy programme to train PGA pros in coaching blind and disabled golfers – a cause close to Dr Haruhisa Handa’s heart as he bids to take golf into the Paralympics.

Free lessons for disabled golfers, by specially trained PGA coaches, will again be a feature of the tented village at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club during tournament week.

Stoke-by-Nayland has a long history of hosting top-flight golf, having staged the Weston Homes PGA International Seniors and is a regular stop on the PGA Europro Tour.

Andy Stubbs, managing director of the European Senior Tour, said: “We are delighted that the Senior Tour will be heading to Stoke-by-Nayland for the first time since 2008, when Nick Job won the Weston Homes PGA International Seniors.

“Having also hosted the PGA Seniors Championship for the two years prior to 
that, when Sam Torrance 
and Carl Mason triumphed, it is a great pleasure to 
return to a venue that has 
produced some great champions and which has always afforded our players a warm reception and superb hospitality.”