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Horton turns his back on American Seniors Tour

London - Tommy Horton, leading money-winner on the European Seniors Tour for the past two years, is turning his back on the chance to challenge Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan, who each earned over well over $1million on the American circuit last season.

"If I went to America it would be like going back to the regular tour on the road, living out of a suitcase," said the 56-year-old Jersey-based player.

"My wife and I now have a quality of life neither of us is prepared to give up. Over here we can get home every week and spend a few days before the next event.

"I don't want to go on the road in America. I shall play in the Senior PGA and possibly the US Senior Open, but that's all. "In the last two years I've made more than I did in 30 years as a touring pro in Europe."

Horton won 133,195 in 1996 and 158,427 last season, plus another 10,000 for being part of the Seniors Tour side which beat the European Women's Tour in Portugal.

"Making the sort of money that I do today means that my wife and I can afford to travel everywhere together. We're enjoying the best days of our lives.

"Whilst I made a reasonable living from the game (on the regular tour) I had to work full-time at it. I was on the road for 30 weeks or more every year and that brought with it disappointments you only begin to realise with age.

"My wife brought up our kids on her own. This is why so many marriages go bust and it's something I regret. I'd like to have spent more time with the family.

"I look at Tiger Woods and worry about his personal future. One of my biggest fears is that Tiger is going to be a very strange person by the time he's 40.

"He's not had a childhood; he hasn't enjoyed regular friends and doing the things kids do. I read the other day that they've even had to buy him a jet because every time he gets on a plane he gets hassled.

"My own experiences might amount to only a fraction of what he's going through, but he's losing out, that's for sure."

Horton also cites the example of former Open champion Tony Jacklin, who is now based in Florida, played 26 events last season and finished 67th on the Seniors Tour money list with just over $100,000.

"He doesn't seem to have that thrill about it anymore. He's doing it because it's a business now. "Tony's not a wealthy man. I think he has lost a lot of money in various business ventures. Life is tough and he has to keep on playing."

Horton gives his views in an interview for the next issue of "Golf International" magazine. A Ryder Cup player in 1975 and 1977, he was one of Seve Ballesteros' assistants at Valderrama last September and now finds himself among the names who have been mentioned as possible successors as captain.

"I've read the speculation and it's flattering. I'd love to do it, naturally," he states. "But I think the players themselves would demand a younger captain. They need to feel comfortable with their captain and that probably means a younger man." He sees Mark James and Sam Torrance as the two front-runners for the job. A decision is likely to be made by Europe's Ryder Cup Committee just before the start of the qualifying period in September.

Horton, like James, is on the tour's Board of Directors and while praising the work of executive director Ken Schofield he says that what is needed at the moment is "staff around him who can communicate more effectively with the players."

1998 Press Association