An impressive cast of Major Champions from the United States, including three Open winners, will cross the Atlantic to complement the field of international icons for The 2009 Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard at Sunningdale Golf Club from 23-26 July.
Five-time Open Champion Tom Watson leads the American challenge as the most decorated player in the field, with eight Major Championships and five Senior Major Championships to his name. The 59 year old is aiming to continue his sequence of winning The Senior Open Championship in alternate years, having captured the title in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
He is also looking forward to competing against some of Europe’s all-time finest players, including Sir Nick Faldo, Mark James, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, as well as Australian Greg Norman.
Watson is joined at Sunningdale by compatriot Tom Lehman, who won The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1996, and Mark O’Meara, who claimed the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale in 1998.
Lehman, the 2006 US Ryder Cup Captain, is making his Senior Open debut at Sunningdale after turning 50 in March and is eager to take his place amongst some of the golfing greats on a course he knows well.
He said: "I am looking forward with great anticipation to competing in The 2009 Senior Open Championship on one of the great golf courses in the world: Sunningdale Old Course.
“Great championships are played at venues with great tradition and Sunningdale is a perfect fit for this one. I have had the great pleasure to play several times on the Old and I still consider it to be one of the most fun and most interesting golf courses in the world.
“As a golf club, Sunningdale takes a back seat to no-one. What could be better? A great Championship played on a great golf course hosted by great people."
O’Meara is looking to go one better than his tied second place behind Watson in The 2007 Senior Open Championship at Muirfield.
The 52 year old’s Open Championship victory at Royal Birkdale 11 years ago makes him the last player in the field to hold a Major Championship, with his Claret Jug coming in the same year he also won the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
He is one of five American Green Jacket winners included in the field for The Senior Open Championship, joining Watson (1977,1981), Craig Stadler (1982), Ben Crenshaw (1984, 1995) and Larry Mize (1987).
Watson also won the US Open Championship in 1982, while Jerry Pate (1976), Scott Simpson (1987) and Tom Kite (1992) are also playing at Sunningdale. Jeff Sluman, who captured the US PGA Championship in 1988, completes the set of ten American Major winners in the field, with 18 Major Championships between them.
They will attempt to succeed another American, defending champion Bruce Vaughan, who won his maiden Senior title at Royal Troon last year after defeating John Cook in a play-off.
Former Senior Open Champions Pete Oakley (2004) and Loren Roberts (2006) also take their places in the field, along with Jay Haas who won the 2006 and 2008 US Senior PGA Championship, and Don Pooley and Peter Jacobsen who won the 2002 and 2004 US Senior Open Championship respectively.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, said: “The array of former Major Champions coming across to Sunningdale highlights just how strong the field is for this year’s Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard.
“We are delighted to see three former Open Champions in Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara and Tom Watson join our own famous Major winners and we look forward to the most eagerly anticipated Championship in the 23 history of The Senior Open.”
There is less than week to go to buy tickets at a reduced price, with the advance ticket offer to see the world class field at Sunningdale ending on 30th June.
One day tickets are now on sale for just £16.50 – a saving of £8.50 on the gate price – or £15 for those paying by MasterCard card if booked before 1st July.
A season ticket is £60 before 1st July – a saving of £10 on the gate price – with a further 10% discount also available for customers booking and paying by MasterCard card, meaning they can watch all of the action for just £54.
Tickets for the Championship can be booked now in advance either via www.europeantourtickets.com or by calling +44 (0) 800 023 2557.
MasterCard Worldwide www.mastercard.com
In each month and year listed below every article that has ever appeared in golfbusinessnews is reproduced in reverse date order.