Sunny Outlooks for Langer & Lane at Sunningdale

Keeping the run of majors going is the Senior British Open an event on both the Champions Tour in the US and the Seniors Tour in Europe. This year it will return to Sunningdale GC which hosted for the only previous time in 2009 when Loren Roberts was the victor, whilst last year Bernhard Langer won by a massive 13 shots at Royal Porthcawl. Still playing majors so another 72 holes this week, and a full field with a cut after two rounds, a UK start time obviously and that is 7am on Thursday 23rd July.

The Course & Past Winners

A slight difference for a British Open in that it is not a links course with Sunningdale sat in Berkshire, just across the railway tracks from Wentworth. It is the Old Course that is in use this week and it was set out in 1901 by Wille Park Jnr, and although not links it is a heathland course with similar characteristics like heather & gorse to capture any errant shots.
Quite short at 6,616 yards and a par 70. Apart from hosting this event in 2009 it did also host the European Open from 1982 to 86, 88, 90 & 92, but I haven't looked in detail at those results.
Recent winners of the event have been:
Year Player Course Score Players Under Par Winning Margin
LANGER Bernhard
Royal Porthcawl
Royal Birkdale
Walton Heath GC
LANGER Bernhard
Sunningdale GC - Old Course
Royal Troon
Don't be fooled by Langer's winning score last year only he made it look easy with just a handful under par, and in general scoring is quite tough. This included Sunningdale in 09, although it did play easier than other years I've looked at, from 2007.

The Contenders

There is only one place to start and that is the defending champion Bernhard Langer. There is an argument that past course form will not be much use for this event, but his record since joining the tour is excellent finishing 4th in 08 & here in 09, he won in 2010, 12th in 2011 is his worst result, then improved with 6th, 2nd and the big win last year. He was only a shot outside the playoff in 09, an opening 72 his let-down, but recovered with 67 and a pair of 65's. He also won the European Open back in 1985, and was 3rd the following year. After a relatively slow start to the year he picked up his first win at the Constellation Senior Players Championship and he followed that with 3rd at the US Senior Open. Whilst before his win he was 5th & 6th at the first two majors in the year and then 48th at the Principal Charity Classic. Also played in The Open last week and made the cut but finished 2nd last.
Winner of the US Senior Open four weeks ago was Jeff Maggert who made it two majors so far this year having also picked up the Regions Tradition. In between he was 22nd at the Senior PGA Championship, 5th at the Principal Charity Classic and 12th at the Senior Players Championship, with 13th in the last event two weeks ago, the Encompass Championship. He's making his Senior British Open debut.
Leader of the Charles Schwab Cup is Colin Montgomerie who's last four events have been the four majors and after 24th in the Regions Tradition he's hit form with a win at the Senior PGA, 3rd at the Senior Players and 2nd at the US Senior Open. Will be playing his third Senior Open and was 21st on debut two years ago at Royal Birkdale and a distant 2nd last year at Royal Porthcawl.
After 25 straight visits to Crans-sur-Sierre Miguel Angel Jimenez is giving that event a miss to play here this week. It will be his second appearance in the Senior Open having been 8th on debut last year at Royal Porthcawl. Although he's not having a great season this year, did have runner up finishes in the Open de Espana & at Wentworth, but then 43rd in the Irish Open and missed cuts in Sweden & the US Open. Was then 17th at the US Senior Open and 10th in the Scottish Open but missed the cut last week at St Andrews. His win in January on this tour seems a long way off now.
Winner in 2009 when the course last hosted was Loren Roberts, who beat Fred Funk & Mark McNulty in a playoff. He was consistent with 66 & 68 to open followed by a pair of 67's. Has not been in good form this year, like Jimenez his best solo result was back in January in Hawaii when 11th, although he did have a 3rd in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf. Withdrew & missed the cut in the first two majors with 30th at the Prinicpal Charity Classic before the next two when 29th at the Senior Players and missed the cut at the US Senior Open. 31st in the Encompass Championship a couple of weeks ago.
Final thought is another a bit closer to home with Barry Lane who made his Senior Open debut in 2010 when 30th. Improved to 5th and 3rd in the next two years, 21st and then 3rd again last year. He played a few times at Sunningdale in the past and has a best of 4th in 1992. Plays mainly on the European Senior Tour and was 22nd initially in the US at the Senior PGA, then 9th in Wales & 14th in Jersey, 12th in the US Senior Open, 14th in the Swiss Seniors and 2nd two weeks ago in the Winstongolf Senior Open.

My Selection

As it is dual ranking for the Champions & Senior Tours I will go in double handed, and of the three favourites both Montgomerie & Langer do stand out, but with Bernhard Langer at slightly longer odds he just gets the vote.
Whilst Barry Lane also gets the nod as he has a good record in the Senior Open, as well as a good result at Sunningdale in the past. Plus some good recent form both on the weaker Seniors Tour and also in the couple of the majors in the US. At 80-1 he seems excellent value.