Sam Torrance will try to close the gap at the top of the European Senior Tour Order of Merit when he returns to Stapleford Park next week for the inaugural Handa Senior Masters presented by the Stapleford Forum.
The 2002 Ryder Cup winning Captain, who was the leading Senior Tour player in 2009, is currently second behind runaway leader Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand in the current Order of Merit as he attempts to successfully defend the John Jacobs Trophy.
Ruangkit has won the last three Senior Tour events – in Brunei, Thailand and South Africa – to open up €47,896 gap at the top of the standings but with a prize fund of £400,000 and a £60,000 winner’s cheque on offer next week, Torrance will be determined to reduce that margin.
The Scot is a former Captain at Stapleford Park, in Leicestershire, and he will be keen to take advantage of his knowledge of the Donald Steel-designed course as the Senior Tour visits the United Kingdom for the first time in 2010.
Torrance has carried forward his fine form from last season into the current campaign with three top five finishes in four appearances so far including a share of second place in the last event, the Berenberg Bank Masters in South Africa.
He said: “I’m playing magnificently at the moment and I feel confident every time I go out on the course so I’m looking forward to going back to Stapleford Park, which is a place I know well.
“Boonchu has been unbelievable in the past three events and he will take some stopping this year but I’m determined to retain my John Jacobs Trophy. It would be fantastic to get another victory to help me en route to doing that.”
Torrance is an Ambassador for title sponsor the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) and its Chairman Dr Haruhisa Handa, as is fellow Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam who joins him in the field at Stapleford Park.
Woosnam is keen to return to his best form and claim a fourth Senior Tour title ahead of the season’s first Senior Major Championship, the US Senior PGA Championship in Colorado at the end of this month.
The Handa Senior Masters presented by the Stapleford Forum, from May 12-14, is one of four events on the 2010 Senior Tour Schedule sponsors by ISPS and will see the debut of Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn, winner of the 2001 PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.
There will also be a strong English challenge including former Ryder Cup player Gordon J Brand, Roger Chapman, all-time leading Senior Tour money winner Carl Mason, Peter Mitchell and Kevin Spurgeon, who claimed the first title of the 2010 season in the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open.
Dr Handa, Chairman of ISPS, said: “I am delighted that there is such a strong turnout for the inaugural Handa Senior Masters presented by the Stapleford Forum. It promises to be a great competition at a fantastic venue.”