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MCB Road to Mauritius number one Peter Baker heads a field of 40 players hot off his third victory of the season at the Legends Tour’s flagship event, the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship. The Englishman is one of nine former Ryder Cup players teeing it up in France, including tournament host Jean Van De Velde, Thomas Levet, Costantino Rocca and Phillip Price.
“It’s been amazing,” said Baker. “It’s all happened so quickly. I’ve got on a good run of form and confidence breeds more confidence. I’m waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up. All parts of my game have improved a little bit, and I’ve certainly driven and putted better than I did last year. It’s all added up to a good season and giving myself a lot of chances to win.
“I’m not used to being at the top so I’m just trying to enjoy it. Golf is obviously a very fickle game, so I’m trying to make myself play as well as I can for as long as I can. I’m trying to keep grounded and look forward to each week and be competitive.”
Golf de Saint-Cloud is a venue Baker is familiar with: “It’s a beautiful course, and I’ve played it a few times. It’s a lovely old course, in a great spot. Everyone always enjoys this week. You have to hit it well off the tee because if you get it on the fairways, you’re going to give yourself a lot of chances. It’s quite tight in places and you’ve got to move your ball a little bit, so driving is very important, and of course, you’ve got to finish it off as well.”
Thirteen other players from the top 20 of the MCB Road to Mauritius will also be hoping to close the gap to Baker with a win at Golf Saint-Cloud. Adilson da Silva is 4th, with two wins this season, and the others from the top 10 are Greig Hutcheon in 6th, Phillip Price in 7th and Phillip Archer in 10th.
Greg Owen has been getting better with every start this season – T45 at the Jersey Legends, T18 at the Irish Legends, T8 at the JCB Championship, T5 at the Legends Tour Trophy and runner-up at the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship – to climb to 12th in the MCB Road to Mauritius.
“I’m delighted,” he said. “It was kind of an experimental year and I didn’t know what to expect after my health issues, so this year I wanted to see what I’ve got, and it’s gotten better and better every week. I’ve had a long time off with my back surgery, and the mental side isn’t as strong as it used to be, but it’s coming back. I still don’t feel like I’ve played to my best yet so I’m hoping there are enough tournaments left that I can keep going for that to happen.”
On his return from back surgery, he added: “I’m way ahead of where I thought I’d ever be again. My surgery was lower back reconstruction, so it was pretty big. I didn’t know if I’d be playing again, properly walking, who knows. But that’s in the past, and I’m trying to enjoy golf now. The results will come if I keep doing the same things.”
This week’s event is being hosted by Jean Van De Velde, who won twice on the DP World Tour and was a part of the European Ryder Cup team in 1999.
“I’m very excited for the week,” said the Frenchman. “It’s one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the country and we’re very fortunate that they really welcome us. It’s an old golf course – over 100 years old. Everything is in front of you and there’s quite a lot of elevation change from 7-14. There’s beautiful trees and forest around. It’s a classic golf course – and a great test.”
The course is tree-lined with relatively small greens and stunning views of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a par 71 that measures 6,524 yards, with two of the three par-5s coming in the final four holes.
Last year, Gary Marks won the title by three shots from Adilson da Silva, with a -9 total. Ian Woosnam finished in a tie for 3rd with Denmark’s Steen Tinning.
Visit www.legendstour.com to see the full list of tee times, keep up to date with the leaderboard and find out more about the WCM Legends Open de France hosted by Jean Van De Velde at Golf de Saint-Cloud.