EXACTLY two months after hitting his last ball in the heat of competition, Andrew Oldcorn sets out in Mauritius today on a “major” mission.
Heading into the £340,000 MCB Tour Championship, the European Senior Tour’s season-ending event, the 53-year-old Edinburgh man is lying sixth on the money list. Cementing that position would see Oldcorn secure a spot in next season’s US Senior Open, having already guaranteed himself one trip over the Atlantic for another of the over-50s majors, the Senior PGA Championship.
It’s a carrot he’s determined to grab but the former PGA champion needs a good week at Constance Belle Mare Plage. He reckons as many as eight players are still in contention for the final two spots up for grabs at Oak Tree National in Oklahoma next July.
Oldcorn is also going into the event cold – his last event was the Dutch Senior Open in the middle of October – whereas some of his rivals have either been playing on the Champions Tour, the Qualifying School for that or in events in Australia.
“It is difficult to try to prepare mentally when it’s been two months since your last tournament and it’s just over a week before Christmas – I’ve never had to do that before,” admitted the Kings Acre-based player, who has earned just under £120,000 from 12 events this year.
“But it’s a very important tournament so I’ve been getting in as much practice as I could at home. I’ve not played that much over the past few weeks – only two or three games in the Alliance and a couple of games with some pals out at Ratho Park. That means I’m going to be lacking tournament sharpness and we’ll just need to wait and see if that’s a problem or not.
“Some of the boys have been playing in tournaments, including the Champions Tour Qualifying School. Peter Fowler has also been playing in the Australian PGA events. It’s a shame there’s been such a huge gap on the schedule for the European Senior Tour players and I don’t know why this event is so late in the year, but I’ve never shirked a challenge so I just have to go out there and get on with it.”
He has chalked up an impressive seven top 10s this season, including five in his last six events. But Oldcorn, right, decided to skip a trip to the Far East a month ago, when Englishman Paul Wesselingh won to strenghthen his position at the top of the money list.
“I never planned to play in Taiwan – I just didn’t want to go there,” added the 2011 De Vere Seniors PGA champion. “But now there’s a tournament within a tournament this week with eight of us playing for two spots as the top six on the Order of Merit get into the US Senior Open next year. I’m in one of the positions at the moment, but it looks as though I’ll need to pick up another £20,000-£30,000 to stay there.
“I’m already in the Senior PGA Championship and it would be great to get another major next year. I’ve prepared for this week as best as I can in the circumstances. I came here via Dubai, where I spent a few days acclimatising at Jumeirah Estates. I’ve worked hard, but it’s never easy going from a Scottish winter to play in 30- degree heat.
“I was on a really good run in the main part of the tournament season – the finish of that came at the wrong time for me. I should have won the tournament in France after taking a big lead into the last round. That was hugely disappointing. I didn’t think I would make the mistakes I did that day.”
South African David Frost is the obvious favourite in the 54-hole event, having landed the title twice in the last three years at the same venue. The line-up also includes Colin Montgomerie, who is bidding to land his second European Senior Tour title after an impressive runaway success at Woburn in August. “Monty playing is good for the tournament and it’s a course that will probably suit him,” noted Oldcorn. “The course isn’t that long; it’s one where you have to plot your way round off the tee.”