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The Legends Tour has attracted a world class field that includes major winners Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Michael Campbell, plus eight-time DP World Tour number one Colin Montgomerie, for its first €1 million event of the regular season of the 2023 season. The tournament is being hosted by 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke.
A total of eight players from the top 10 of the Legends Tour Order of Merit are teeing it up this week, including two-time winner this year Adilson da Silva, Irish Legends champion Peter Baker and Michael Jonzon, Phillip Price and Phillip Archer, who all finished in the top five at last week’s Senior Open presented by Rolex.
Alex Cejka is defending the title he won with a score of -11 last year and he arrives in red-hot form after winning his third Senior Major in brutal conditions at Royal Porthcawl.
“I still don’t think it’s sunk in,” says the German. “I’m still on adrenaline and I can’t sleep at night. It’s overwhelming. Winning one was incredible, winning the PGA was special, but being a European and winning in Europe is the icing on the cake.”
Cejka will have to tackle different playing conditions at JCB this year. “I really played well last year. I had a great time and it’s a great golf course. It was playing totally different to this year. It was almost playing too short because it was dry and the ball was running forever. It’s wet and they’ve built a couple of new tees this year, so it’s longer and it’s going to be more challenging. I beat a great field last year, and it’s going to be the same this year. There are a lot of great players, so I’m excited.”
“It’s wonderful to be the host again this year,” says Clarke. “What JCB have created here is very special. I know we’ve had a lot of rain, but the course itself is brilliant. The golf course is hopefully going to produce another great winner this week.
“I’ve played a couple of rounds this week and the ball isn’t travelling like it was last year. Some bunkers that we took on and carried to get the ball closer to the green last year, you’ve got to be a bit careful of. It’s going to play longer, but the greens will be receptive so it gives us the chance to fire at a few more flags this year. If you can control your ball and get it into the right quadrant on the greens, then you’ll get a pretty good birdie chance. But it you miss it, the speed the greens are going to be, going up and over hills is going to make it pretty tough.”
The course this week is a par 72 that measures 6,991 yards, set amid the lush rolling countryside of Staffordshire. There are plenty of undulations for the players to contend with on the greens, and the course is playing longer and softer than last year because of heavy rain in the build-up.
There are scoring opportunities, especially the four par-5s and potentially drivable 12th hole, but the closing stretch is tough. The 15th is the stroke index one for members, the signature 17th is a 204-yard par-3 played downhill to a green surrounded by water, and the 18th is 442 yards uphill to a slopey green.
Watch daily highlights of the JCB Championship 2023 on Sky Sports Golf (UK) at 11pm (BST) this Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Keep up to date with live scoring at legendstour.com with more exclusive content across our social media channels.