14 Jul Brand Jnr relishing Sunningdale return
Gordon Brand Jnr is relishing a return to Sunningdale Golf Club for next week’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, the venue where he overcame Seve Ballesteros in 1984 to claim one of the biggest of his eight European Tour victories.
The Scot came from three shots behind at the European Open 31 years ago to leap-frog the Spanish legend and five-time Major champion on the final day and claim his second title of the season at the Surrey venue.
The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex returns to the famous Old Course at Sunningdale for the first time in six years and Brand Jnr cannot wait to get back, having played in the 2009 edition of the Senior Open, finishing tied 32nd.
“I have a lot of fond memories of the place, winning the Sunningdale foursomes and then of course shooting 64 in the final round to beat Seve and win my first European Open,” said the former Ryder Cup player.
“I just seem to like the golf course. It’s suits me quite well and, although my game’s not quite what it used to be, it’s a great venue and I’m looking forward to it.
“Everyone always asks what the highlight of my career was and nothing comes close to my first victory, but it was really nice to beat Seve. It gave me a real punch after that because he had won The Open that year too.”
A further boost comes in the fact that Brand Jnr’s best result in Europe’s only Senior Major came four years ago at Walton Heath, a heathland course with many similarities to next week’s venue.
The 56 year old thinks it will be the perfect venue for the Senior Tour showpiece and hopes it will the one which spurs him to something special, having enjoyed a steady start to the 2015 season.
“It’s always in great nick so I’m thoroughly looking forward to it,” he said. “I wonder if the course will be able to put up with the younger guys now because they hit it so far.
“But it’s an old-fashioned golf course and they haven’t had to do too much with it, which says a great deal for a golf course when it is as it always was.
“I liked Walton Heath and they are similar courses, so it’s about time I did a little bit better at a Senior Open Championship. I’ve really struggled with a few things in the last couple of Senior Opens but I seem to be a bit more consistent this year, if not perfect yet.
“I’m playing really good, but I didn’t really manage to make any putts at all last week so you’ve got start somewhere. I think you’re looking for that little boost every week when it’s gone a bit stale and I will certainly cherish and look forward to the event.”
This year’s field contains more Major winners than ever before, with 17 players who have won Majors on the main Tours and 15 who have captured Major titles in their post-50 era. Only five can claim entry to a very exclusive club for Major success before and after reaching 50 – namely Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara and Tom Watson.
Six of Brand Jnr’s team-mates from the successful European Ryder Cup team of 1987 are also in the field at Sunningdale
Sir Nick Faldo, a six-time Major Champion and three time winner of The Open Championship, is one of them as he returns to a venue upon which he won the 1992 edition of the European Open.
José Rivero, a man whom twice partnered Brand Jnr in that Ryder Cup – is also present, while German two-time Masters winner Langer, 21-time European Tour winner and Sunningdale resident Sam Torrance, his Scottish compatriot and two-time Major Champion Sandy Lyle and Welsh legend Ian Woosnam are the other members of that team in the field.