Carl Mason and Sam Torrance, who between them have laid claim to the past five Order of Merit titles, will be among those welcoming the launch of a new PGA tournament on the European Seniors Tour.
The £175,000 Weston Homes PGA International Seniors takes its bow on the Seniors Tour at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa from 12-14 September, following a three year agreement between The Professional Golfers‘ Association and the title sponsor.
Mason and Torrance have both won the PGA Seniors Championship at the East Anglian venue, in 2007 and 2006 respectively, but the real winners are set to be the many golf fans across the East of England as they anticipate the return of Europe’s most successful Senior golfers for a third successive season.
The 7,000 yard Gainsborough Course, with its greens rated among the best on the Seniors Tour circuit, is set to provide a fitting stage for the 72 strong field.
Duel Ryder Cup winner Constantino Rocca and 1991 Masters Champion Ian Woosnam, who turns 50 on March 2, 2008, will both be eligible to compete in the inaugural tournament.
The 54-hole event, which carries a first prize of £26,250, will also provide additional opportunities for club professionals who finish among the leading places at the PGA Senior Club Professional Championship in May.
Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, welcomed both the announcement and the support of Weston Homes as title sponsor.
He said, “We‘re thrilled to be able to host a second event on the European Seniors Tour, and also to welcome on board Weston Homes for what we hope proves a long, happy and successful partnership.
“We have close ties with the Seniors Tour and indeed many of the players who forged their early careers with us, so we‘re delighted to maintain that strong connection.
“We‘re also pleased to be returning to Stoke by Nayland, which so successfully hosted the PGA Seniors Championship for two years and proved very popular with the players.”
Robert Weston, chairman of Weston Homes, said he hoped the deal marked a milestone in the company’s history, the beginning of a long association with the Seniors Tour, and a move into the sport’s “big league”.
He said, “It is an absolute thrill to have secured the title sponsorship of the Weston Homes PGA International Seniors and to be involved with the launch of this new golfing event, which is a milestone for both the PGA and the European Seniors Tour.
“Weston Homes has been involved in the sponsorship of local PGA events for many years, and will continue to do so. But we are taking our commitment to the sport one step further by venturing into the big league, and committing to the Seniors Tour for the next three years.”
Weston Homes, a subsidiary of the Weston Group, was founded in 1987 and specialises in high quality residential developments across London and the Home Counties.
Susanna Rendall, managing director of the Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf Club and Spa, said, “We are delighted to host this prestigious event, and are particularly pleased to have on board a major Sponsor which is local to this area.
“Having staged the PGA Seniors Championships for the past two years, as well as several PGA Europro Tour events, we feel we have both the experience and enhanced facilities to do justice to such a major European tournament.
“In addition, a £4 million expansion and refurbishment programme will be completed by the Spring, and the newly created Golfers‘ Bar and Gallery Lounge – with 180 degree panoramic views over stunning Constable Country – will I am sure greatly enhance the players enjoyment of Stoke by Nayland.”
Andy Stubbs, managing director of the European Seniors Tour, said, “We would like to extend our thanks to the PGA and to Weston Homes for securing this new event on the 2008 European Seniors Tour Schedule.
“We are delighted to return to the Stoke by Nayland Golf Club, where we are always afforded a warm welcome by the club’s friendly staff.
“We can be sure, judging from our previous experiences, that the test of golf provided here will guarantee another exciting tournament and produce a worthy winner.”