Former Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance were joined by defending champion Paul Wesselingh and tournament host Marc Farry at the launch of the MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius, the season-ending event on the European Senior Tour.
The quartet held a press conference at the spectacular host venue Constance Belle Mare Plage before moving to the beach for a fun ‘Island Challenge’, hitting from a specially constructed platform to a rock island 212yards out in the Indian Ocean.
The tournament, which starts on Friday, marks the fourth consecutive year that the Senior Tour’s finale will be held in Mauritius and on Sunday afternoon Montgomerie will be presented with the John Jacobs Trophy for winning the 2014 Order of Merit in record-breaking fashion.
Montgomerie is hoping to cap a fine season with his fifth Senior Tour victory of 2014, having won both the US Senior PGA Championship and US Senior Open, as well as the Travis Perkins Masters and Russian Open Golf Championship (Senior) so far. After finishing sixth in his debut in the event last year, he is now hoping to follow in the spike marks of Wesselingh, who 12 months ago won the tournament by five strokes to seal the 2013 Order of Merit crown.
“I’m delighted to be here with the family and I’m really looking forward to the week,” said the eight-time European Tour Number One. “The Order of Merit is already wrapped up, but there is a big tournament to play for. It’s the best field we have assembled for this tournament, and it has an international element with David Frost playing too, with the fine array of sponsors, not just MCB, which shows how big this tournament is.
“It is a fantastic place to be. This is my second visit and they really do make you feel welcome. I was very impressed with Paul winning this event last year. He didn’t put a foot wrong, and didn’t put a foot wrong all year really. I know I will have to play my best this year if I am to achieve what Paul did, which was to win the tournament and the John Jacobs Trophy. It’s a tough golf course and you need to be very aware out there. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Wesselingh is currently ninth in the Order of Merit this time round, after winning the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany in September, and he is hoping his return to the Legend Course can inspire another memorable performance.
“It was an unbelievable year for me last year and to top the year off here, playing with Monty in the last round, and winning to seal the Senior Tour Order of Merit, was a huge honour,” said Wesselingh. “To come back this year obviously brings back many happy memories. It was a very special week for me and it will always stay that way in my mind.
“The problem is when you win the Order of Merit, there is only one way you can go, and that is backwards. You can’t go any better than I did last year. I had a bit of a shaky start this year, and for some reason the confidence wasn’t there, but then in Germany it just clicked and I have finished the season off well. It just goes to show what a crazy game golf is. There’s no reason for all this, it just happens, and I’m looking forward to challenging Monty again this week.”
Torrance, the 2002 European Ryder Cup and a vice captain under Paul McGinley at Gleneagles this year, knows all about winning the John Jacobs Trophy, having topped the Senior Tour Order of Merit on three occasions. With two top four finishes in the MCB Tour Championship, the Scot is looking to end the season on a high.
“It’s always been fantastic to come here and we owe Marc Farry a lot of gratitude because it is great to get a Senior Tour event here,” said Torrance. “I had actually been here before on holiday and it is a beautiful island. One of the special things is they treat you like a family member when you come back. They all know your name make you feel welcome. And the tournament is special too.”
Frenchman Farry, who is an Official Ambassador for the island of Mauritius, is confident the MCB Tour Championship will be another huge success, with former World Number One Ian Woosnam making his debut to further strengthen the field.
“This year is probably the strongest field we have had for the tournament,” said Farry, who has finished in the top ten in each of the last two years. “We have Ryder Cup captains, Ryder Cup vice captains, Ryder Cup players, Major winners, European Tour winners. It is a fantastic field and I’m sure it is going to be a fantastic tournament and a great way to end the season.
“Monty is playing to win and he is going to be hard to beat for us, but we will do our best to try to challenge him. It is a difficult, tight golf course. You have to manoeuvre the ball well round here. So it will be a challenge for everyone, and I think it will be a great tournament.”
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