Defending champion Ian Attoe believes the quality and strength in depth of senior golf will be showcased this week at the English Senior Men’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
Last week Attoe took his hat off to fellow ‘golden oldie’ Paul Wharton for making the quarter finals of the English Men’s Amateur Championships at the age of 59.
It was a performance that captured the imagination of the golfing public and Attoe is certain that there is plenty more good golf to come from Wharton and the other 143 competitors taking part from tomorrow at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.
The Lincolnshire venue will stage the 54-hole stroke play event with rounds played on both the Bracken and Hotchkin courses. Day one is on the Hotchkin and Friday’s round is on the Bracken.
On completion of round two a cut will be made to allow the top 60 players to complete the championship on Saturday on the Hotchkin.
Attoe is out to make it a hat-trick of wins after success in 2018 at Sherwood Forest and Coxmoor and in 2019 at Holme Hall and Elsham.
That might be easier said than done especially if Wharton (pictured below) plays to form and others pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the Woodhall Spa member in terms of performance level.
“It was great to see Paul – a fellow England team-mate – do so well last week,” said the 61-year-old
“He just showed what can be done.
“The Hotchkin can be a fierce test, but Paul and some others showed that there is a score to be made out there.
“The standard of the senior game is going up and up.
“In the past there might not have been some particularly good scores that have won it, but I think even though it’s two tough tracks this week, the scoring will be good.
“There’s so much quality in the field that I could list a whole host of players who could challenge.”
And as for his own chances, the Worplesdon Golf Club member added: “I played some shots last week in the Men’s Amateur that gives me hope going into this. I didn’t score very well, but there were signs.
“This is a special championship – if you are only going to win one event the whole season then this is it.
“Every year I look to play well and aim for the top three or four and I’ve been lucky enough to win it three times.
“I like Woodhall Spa as a venue – I’ve played it a lot over the years in the Central England Men’s events and it has two terrific courses.”
A feature of the senior amateur championship over the years has been the camaraderie off the course – and while there will be changes to the norm for this year, the spirit of friendly rivalry will not diminish.
England Senior Men’s international Attoe added: “The disrupted season certainly affected my motivation to practise when I wasn’t sure there would be any tournaments to aim for.
“We were all extremely fortunate get out playing social golf at our clubs from May, but there was nothing competitive to aim for at that stage.
“I’m extremely pleased England Golf have been able to re-schedule this event and given us old boys something to focus on.
“It is fiercely competitive, but it’s also played in an extremely friendly atmosphere.
“In regular times we all spend almost as much time enjoying each other’s company in the clubhouse as we do out on the course.
“But I’m sure we will all still enjoy our week.”