Mauritius – and specifically Constance Belle Mare Plage – has become the traditional venue for the conclusion of the European Senior Tour season.
Just as the European Tour spends every year in a Race to Dubai, so do the more experienced golfers of Europe have one eye on guaranteeing their place in the Indian Ocean finale.
The MCB Tour Championship offers many players the opportunity to cap a fine season and for others it gives them the chance to make up for a few missed cuts, but everyone in the field is together in believing that the Legends course is an apt stage for the season’s climax.
This year, as last, the tour has been dominated by one of the undoubted legends of European golf, Colin Montgomerie. He has defended both his US Senior PGA Championship and Travis Perkin Masters titles, finished third in the Senior British Open and in so doing has guaranteed a successful defense of his position as the number one golfer on the tour, for which he will lift the John Jacobs Trophy.
But the 52-year-old Scotsman travels to Mauritius with no intention of resting on his laurels. “I have finished sixth here for the past two years,” he says, “so an improvement on that would be nice. But irrespective of where I finish, I am sure I will enjoy the tournament because it is a beautiful place and a wonderful week.”
It’s clear that Montgomerie is itching to get it right this year, but he’ll face stiff competition, not least from the man who has finished five places ahead of him in both the last two years, Paul Wesselingh.
The Englishman went head-to-head with Montgomerie two years ago and stunned most observers by leaving the Ryder Cup star in the dust whilst last year he needed a record-equaling six-hole play-off to defeat Barry Lane. An eight-time winner on the tour it would be a brave man who discounted Wesselingh, who says the course “is perfect for me“ but adds: “There’s a depth of quality on the European Senior Tour and some people lose sight of that, but not me, I know how tough it is to win out here.”
Wesselingh’s strength is his accuracy from the tee and the same could be said of the three leaders in the race to become Rookie of the Year so perhaps they‘ll challenge for the title. England’s Paul Broadhurst and China’s Lianwei Zhang are the most likely winner of the Rookie prize, but Australia’s Peter O’Malley could pinch it from them.
Course form is important on the Legends so it would be foolish to overlook South Africa’s David Frost (six top five finishes) and Barry Lane (desperate to go one better than 12 months ago).
There are plenty of contenders and there will many approaches towards success as well. Some will look to concentrate on the golf course, others will seek to thrive by relaxing on the beach between rounds (Wesselingh, for example, has attributed his successes to pre- and post-round swims in the sea).
What all will enjoy on the Legends course is a golfing challenge that requires technical excellence from tee to green, the ability to make the most of the par-5s (which can be attacked) and also the capacity not to be distracted by the beauty of the flame trees, wildlife and lagoon, all of which fringe the course.
– The 2015 MCB Tour Championship takes place at Constance Belle Mare Plage, 11-13 December.
- Top golf tips from PGA players
- Moments of golfing history at the MCB Tour Championship
- Golf for relaxation and focus.