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Darren Clarke makes the first defence of a Senior Major Championship this week as he looks to become the first player to successfully retain his title since Christy O’Connor Jnr in 2000.
A birdie on a weather-affected final day at Gleneagles’ King’s Course last year helped the Northern Irishman to a one-shot victory over Pádraig Harrington.
Following a near two-hour delay in Scotland midway through the back nine, Clarke withstood a late charge by fellow Open winner Harrington as a two-putt birdie at the 18th sealed a dramatic victory in the fading light.
In claiming his victory, Clarke became just the fourth player to win both The Open Championship and The Senior Open, emulating Bob Charles, Gary Player and Tom Watson.
It was the 14-time DP World Tour winner’s fourth and most recent title since turning 50 and has stated that Royal Porthcawl will be a course “that will test every facet of your game”.
The Senior Open is returning to Royal Porthcawl for the first time in six years this week as the venue stages the event for the third time.
A year after Gleneagles hosted Europe’s only Senior Major Championship, the 36th edition visits South Wales again for what promises to be another intriguing week of outstanding golf.
Many tournaments, both amateur and professional, graced the venue which was founded in 1891 as a nine-hole course before a further nine holes were added four years later.
In 1909, the club was bestowed the honour of using the prefix Royal – only the second club in Wales to be granted the privilege after Royal St David’s.
It first hosted a Senior Major in 2014, when Bernhard Langer won by a remarkable 13 shots before the event returned to Royal Porthcawl for a second time in 2017 when the German won once again.
Inside the field
Joining defending champion Clarke are a host of iconic figures from the game, including fellow stars from European golf such as José María Olazábal, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Langer and Harrington.
There are also a host of leading global figures who are in pursuit of a Senior Major title, including Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, John Daly and Michael Campbell among others.
Two-time Tour winner Adilson Da Silva is the leading player on the 2023 Order of Merit, with fellow champions for this season’s schedule Peter Baker and Richard Green among those also seeking further success.
Stephen Dodd and Paul Broadhurst – both past champions in the past decade – also take their place in the field.
Steve Stricker, who has won three of the four Senior Majors so far this year, is not playing this week but Langer is in action as he looks to claim his 13th Major Championship in the over-50 ranks having claimed the U.S. Senior Open at the start of the month.
Trio who put India on golfing map
On Monday, four Final Qualifying events took place with Jyoti Randhawa – a three-time runner-up on the European Tour – securing one of seven spots on offer at Southerndown.
Randhawa joins fellow Indian figures of the game Jeev Milka Singh and Arjun Atwal in teeing it up this week in Wales for the fifth and final Senior Major of the year.
Milka Singh and Atwal – the first Indian to win on the PGA TOUR – won seven DP World Tour titles between them.
Milka Singh is making his second appearance at The Senior Open following his debut last year in Scotland, while Atwal and Randhawa are set for their debuts.
After Shubhankar Sharma made history by posting the best ever finish by an Indian at The Open (T8) last week, could a countryman make further headlines this week in the senior ranks?
Dredge makes debut
Just a few weeks after turning 50, Bradley Dredge makes his debut this week in the senior ranks.
A professional since 1996, Dredge represented Great Britain and Ireland at the Seve Trophy in 2005 and 2007, around the same time as he featured in the top 50 of golf’s world rankings.
He last teed it up in a Tour event at the Soudal Open last year due to fitness issues and is now getting ready for the opportunities that lie ahead on the
The Welshman won twice on the DP World Tour at the Madeira Island Open and Omega European Masters, in 2003 and 2006 respectively.
Already set to compete at the upcoming JCB Championship and Legends Tour Trophy hosted by Simon Khan, Dredge will hope playing on home soil can inspire him to a strong performance at Royal Porthcawl.