Rolling back the years in a bid to reclaim a title he won at Dalmahoy in 2006 will be the main priority for Sam Torrance in the Scottish Senior Open starting at Archerfield Links, its new home, tomorrow.
But, along with his fellow competitors in the £250,000 event, the former Ryder Cup captain is also looking forward to playing a part in raising the awareness of what he describes as a “vital men’s health message”.
In a ground-breaking initiative for the European Senior Tour, the 54-hole tournament has a charity, Prostate Cancer UK, as its title sponsor, the aim of the innovative move being to draw attention to the most common type of cancer among men.
More than 40,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and, with those aged 50 or over – the same age players become eligible for the Senior Tour – more at risk of developing it, the association is a natural one for both parties.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open,” admitted Torrance. “It’s always good to play in front of my home fans and to play in an event that is associated with such a great cause.
“I’m told prostate cancer affects one in eight men in the UK, so seeing the game of golf unite to drive home this vital men’s health message is a fantastic move.”
That view was echoed by Ray Clemence, the former Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and England goalkeeper as he looked forward to being involved in the pro-am section of the event on the opening two days.
Clemence is one of the thousands of middle-aged men who have been afflicted by the disease and now wants to help increase awareness of the desolation it can cause.
“This is going to be a big week for me and for Prostate Cancer UK,” said the 67 year-old, who played 61 times for England and won an array of national and international honours at both Liverpool and Tottenham before being awarded an MBE for his services to his sport.
“I’ve always been a keen golfer. It’s a sport like no other and as well as tackling the fairways and greens – not to mention the odd bunker – for us men it can offer us the chance to reflect and chat openly.
“Let’s face it, men don’t like to think that anything is wrong with them, especially sportsmen, and if you have a slight problem ‘down there’ it will never be at the forefront of your mind that it could be cancer.”
Torrance, who turned 62 on Monday, is being joined on the East Lothian coast by fellow former Ryder Cup captain Mark James as well as Irishman Des Smyth, who, like the Scot, was one of Paul McGinley’s assistants during last year’s victory in the biennial contest at Gleneagles.
Having found Fairmont St Andrews an unhappy hunting ground during the event’s six-year spell there, Lothians man Andrew Oldcorn will be hoping the move to a new home brings better luck.
Joining him and Torrance in a seven-strong Scottish contingent are Ross Drummond, Gordon Brand Jnr, Bill Longmuir, Stephen McAllister and Brian Marchbank, the latter two both having secured invitations.
Mark Davis, who claimed his maiden Senior Tour success in the same event at Fairmont St Andrews 12 months ago, is defending the title, while fellow Englishman Paul Broadhurst, who turned 50 on August 14, will be making his European Senior Tour debut after a sparkling career during which he won six times in over 500 appearances on the European Tour and played in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island.
“I have been wishing my life away from the age of 47,” he said, laughing. “It’s been extremely frustrating waiting for the day I could become a member of the Senior Tour, but it’s really exciting to be able to return to competitive golf again.”
In a new format for the event, the field comprises of 60 professionals, who will play along an amateur partner for the first two days before the pros only contest the final round on Saturday.
“We are delighted to be working with the European Senior Tour, East Lothian Council and VisitScotland on staging this Championship,” said Archerfield Links chief executive Tom Younger.
“It truly is an honour for us to host this event, especially when you look at some of the previous winners, and it is wonderful to see some of these great champions back in action on Scotland’s Golf Coast.”