Bernhard Langer, winner of the Senior Open Championship in 2014 by a mammoth 13 strokes, believes that the links of Royal Porthcawl will offer a much sterner test this time round as golf’s superstars return to south Wales.
Langer set a new Senior major record with his winning margin as Royal Porthcawl bathed in sunshine, but, with the weather forecast favouring wind and rain, the German believes things will be a lot tougher the next four days.
“I can’t predict the winning score,” said nine-time Senior major winner Langer. “Because I haven’t actually played the course the way it is now. The wind is about 20 to 25 miles per hour and I think the forecast is for that kind of wind throughout the week. I think the score will be over par, but I’ve been wrong before. I’m not a good forecaster. I’m a better golfer.”
Second in the field in 2014 was Colin Montgomerie, one of just five golfers to score better than par that year. “This course will be a massive challenge for everybody, both physically and mentally,” said three-time major winner Montgomerie. “Starting off with a hole that is dead into the wind, it will be driver, 3-iron or driver, 3-wood, and that’s downhill.
“It was windy on Friday at The Open, but Birkdale is less exposed than this. I can’t see anybody breaking par if the conditions are like they were today. That’s not because we can’t play the game, we’re very, very good, but the elements are going to win.
“But it’s the winning score that counts, not how many under par you are. You have to score less than everybody else. If it’s four 74s, it’s four 74s, but you’ve beaten the rest of them.”
Montgomerie is one of nine former Ryder Cup captains and 30 former Ryder Cup players in the field.
“I think it’s a great field and it’s getting stronger every year,” he said. “It’s becoming tougher and tougher every year and that’s why Bernhard has been beating the system hands down. He’s 60 in August and you usually get just five years at this. So he’s given us all hope.”
Paul Broadhurst, who won at Carnoustie last year by two strokes, is under no illusions as to the challenge he faces this week to retain the Senior Claret Jug. “It’s not just Langer, the field is a really strong field,” he said.