Senior Open 2017: Royal Porthcawl ready to host major championship

Take a look behind the scenes as the Senior Open hits Royal Porthcawl.

The best golfers in the world over the age of 50 are gathered at Royal Porthcawl in Wales for the 31st Senior Open Championship.

The final senior major of the season sees Paul Broadhurst looking to defend his title after becoming the first Englishman to win the Senior Open at Carnoustie last year.

The event begins on Thursday, 27 July and ends on Sunday, 30 July.

Who are the names to watch out for?

In arguably the strongest field assembled for a Senior Open, there are nine former Ryder Cup captains and 30 former players appearing in South Wales.

In total, the tournament will feature 15 major champions with 31 victories between them. In addition, there are 17 Senior major champions with a combined 39 titles among the 144 players in the field.

Former Ryder Cup player Broadhurst faces stiff competition, primarily from nine-time Senior major champion Bernhard Langer, who is looking to set a new record of 10 senior major victories as he returns to a Porthcawl where he has enjoyed splendid success.

Langer, a victorious Ryder Cup captain, won by 13 shots in 2014 when Porthcawl last staged the Senior Open.

Fellow former European captains Sir Nick Faldo, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie and Jose María Olazabal also feature.

Colin Montgomerie targets a Senior Open win in Wales

Montgomerie, the captain of Europe when Wales staged the Ryder Cup in 2010, says winning the Senior Open is his "number one target," this year.

The Scot finished second behind Langer at Porthcawl in the 2014 Senior Open and was also second in the 2005 Open at St Andrews.

Since turning 50 in 2013, Montgomerie has claimed three Senior Tour majors but the Senior Open remains elusive.

Another victorious European skipper, Ian Woosnam, leads the charge for Wales alongside compatriot and 2002 Ryder Cup hero Phillip Price, who competes in his first Senior Open. Mark Mouland and Stephen Dodd will also bid to become the first Welsh winner since Brian Huggett in 1998.

Former USA Ryder Cup Captains Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Tom Watson all return. The trio have 10 major championships and nine senior major victories between them.

Fred Couples, Masters champion in 1992, and John Daly, a two-time major winner, are also representing the US, with Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez also likely to be a contender, as he was in Carnoustie in 2016.

Ian Woosnam on wanting to win the Senior Open Championship in Wales

What is the course like?

A jewel in the crown for Welsh golf, Royal Porthcawl is a course Welsh Government economy minister Ken Skates wants to see considered as a potential future Open venue.

However, being a picturesque course celebrating a birthday of 122 is both a blessing and a curse, with many questioning if Porthcawl has the infrastructure in place to cope with the demand of hosting an Open championship.

Close to 250,000 attended this year's event at Birkdale, far in excess of the 43,503 spectators who attended the 2014 Senior Open at Porthcawl.

However, when it comes to player satisfaction, there can be little doubt that Porthcawl ticks all boxes.

"From the first hole on, it was just one great hole after another and one great green complex after another. I really fell in love with it immediately. It's a great golf course," Tom Watson says of Porthcawl.

Bernhard Langer gives his thoughts ahead of the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl

"It is an elegant links course which has everything to offer the links golfer. The complete package," the five-time Open winner added.

Montgomerie agrees. "I was taken aback at how undulating it was for a links course and how good it was. I was very, very impressed," he said.

"It is a very solid golf course and one you have to be extremely careful of. You can get the odd lucky bounce, but you can't be lucky for four days.

"I enjoyed playing it. It was a course full of character and I put it in the same category as Turnberry and Royal Birkdale. Let's also hope the weather plays its part again.

"I think it's a very underrated and underplayed golf course."

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