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Golf News: - Posted 17th January 1998

Seniors Tour gets three new events

Wentworth, Surrey - The European Seniors Tour continues to go from strength to strength six years after its launch with prize money this season up 24per cent to nearly 2.6million.

While the European women's circuit struggles to find backers, the Seniors Tour 1998 schedule just announced shows three new events increasing the number of tournaments from 18 to 21.

Earlier this month it was announced that Golden Charter would sponsor a new Scottish Seniors Open Champiionship with a prize fund of 150,000.

The season kicks off in Spain on May 1 and will visit 12 different countries before finishing with the Ryder Cup-style match against the women's tour in Portugal in November.

The men won the initial staging of that by a comfortable 13-7 margin two months ago, although the event was beset by arguments over the different tees used.

A Seniors Ryder Cup match against the Americans remains the big goal for tour managing director Andy Stubbs.

"It's my desire to have that as quickly as possible," he said. "But 2000 is the first practical date now."

Four-time European No 1 Peter Oosterhuis and 1989 Ryder Cup hero Christy O'Connor Jnr become eligible this year - Oosterhuis is 50 in May and O'Connor in August. Oosterhuis, however, is now working on American TV and his appearances may be limited.

Tommy Horton is the man everybody has to beat. In 1996 Horton had four wins and five second place finishes from 13 starts in becoming No 1 and last season he registered six victories and earned 158,000 - over 72,000 more than runner-up Noel Ratcliffe.

"Tommy has played phenomenal golf and sets the standard," commented Stubbs.

The richest event is the 375,000 Senior British Open, which will once more be staged at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, but is two weeks later than previously on August 6-9.

Gary Player won that last year and followed it up by taking the Wentworth Senior Masters title. They were the South African's only two appearances on the circuit.