Rupert Kellock believes concentration levels will hold the key to a successful defence of the Senior Men’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
Kellock took the honours last year at Woodhall Spa when he won his national title by three clear shots.
Three-times winner Ian Attoe is one of a raft of England senior internationals in the field which also includes, for the first time, the 1996 R&A Amateur champion, Warren Bladon.
Sunningdale member Kellock believes the standard of play will be high and the victor will be the person who – just like golden oldie Phil Mickelson in the US PGA Championship at Kiawah island – has a mind as sharp as his iron play for the 54-hole challenge.
“As seniors if you don’t put the time and effort into your game then it can go downhill very quickly,” admitted Kellock, a former army officer with the Royal Green Jackets.
“You have to work on your game, but also try and maintain concentration.
“I think we all enjoyed watching a senior in Phil win the US PGA Championship.
“The course set-up was fantastic and he showed great levels of concentration to back up his work ethic.
“Of course, we are operating at our level of the game which is very different, but the same principle stands true.
“At our age we might be prone to missing a few more greens because our game is not always consistent.
“That’s when you have to have a good level of concentration to stay on track.
“I’m really looking forward to defending this year. I was chuffed and very proud to win my national title last year and I’d love to be able to defend it.
“I’ll give it my best, but there will be a few familiar faces trying to win this thing as well as some newcomers.
“I played recently with Steve Jensen from Woburn who is making his debut and is a very good player. I noticed Warren Bladon had entered too.”
Kellock has made sure that the trophy – first played for back in 1981 – was put to proper use this past 12 months.
“As it is a rose bowl design, my wife has kept cut flowers in it this year,“ said the England seniors’ squad member with a smile.
But can he bloom when the events tees off on Wednesday?
“I’ll be fighting hard to defend the title,” added Kellock.
“A 54-hole championship is a tough test for any golfer, not just us seniors.
“It has been hard for us all to find consistency with the winter lockdown and the poor spring weather.
“Sometimes the driving game is good and the irons are off. When the irons are ok, the putter goes cold.
“But all the seniors are very keen to get back to competing and this a great opportunity for that.
“I’ve played both the Army and Blackmoor courses and they provide a different test.
“At Blackmoor (pictured below) you need to know where you’re going on a few of the holes to make sure you are not blocked out.
“The short holes are excellent. It may be a par 69, but no-one takes it apart.
“Army can be very tricky and you will need three solid rounds over the three days to compete.”
Each competitor plays 18 holes of stroke play on each of the first two days – one round on Blackmoor and one round on Army.
After 36 holes, the leading 80 competitors and all those tying for 80th place carry their scores forward and play a further 18 holes on the final day at Blackmoor.
Photography credit: Leaderboard/Blackmoor GC/Army GC