With a victory in Bad Ragaz last year, the South African finally won a championship title on the European Seniors Tour, putting an end to his 13-year wait. At 64, he was the second-oldest winner on this tour after Neil Coles. However, John Bland had frequently come close to winning the lucrative Senior Open Championship, in which he finished second on three occasions. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in the 1996 US Champions Tour, thanks to four first places.
Sam Torrance (Schottland)
In 2009, this world-class player and victorious Ryder Cup Captain won the Order of Merit on the European Seniors Tour for the third time. Thanks to a win at the DGM Barbados Open, and another five finishes amongst the first six, his third place in the OKI Castellon Championship at the end of the season was enough for him to relegate Ian Woosnam to second place in the season's Money List. Ironically enough, this tournament was also the decisive one last year, but it was Ian Woosnam who won on that occasion.
Carl Mason (England)
Carl Mason looks all set to become the most successful player on the European Seniors Tour. With 22 outright wins by the end of 2009, he needed just one more title to match Tommy Horton’s record of 23 victories. Moreover, he also looks like being the first golfer to pass the two-million Euro mark in prize money on this tour. Last year, Carl Mason – who has won the Bad Ragaz championship twice – had two outright wins, many other good places and ranked third in the Order of Merit.
Ian Woosnan OBE (Wales)
The former «World's number one» and winner of the Order of Merit in the Seniors 2008 had to concede that title to his colleague Sam Torrance in 2009, although it was a close thing. He won his third Seniors Tour title at the Irish Seniors Open, when he began the final round six strokes down but went on to make up ground and finally beat Bob Boyd in the play-off. Over the course of his highly successful career, he has twice been top of the Order of Merit in the European Tour and was also the hero who led Europe to victory in the 2006 Ryder Cup.
Glenn Ralph (England)
With a victory in the Scottish Senior Open and many other top placements, 2009 was the most successful season to date for the English golfer since he turned professional. After a compulsory break in 2008 as a result of a fractured ankle, he was forced to change his swing, but this proved successful. He played on the European Tour until switching to the European Seniors in 1996. By 2007, he already had his first title within sight, but was then beaten by the Scot John Chillas in the play-off at the Scandinavian Senior Open.
Angel Franco (Paraguay)
On the South American Tour, Angel Franco was leader of the Order of Merit from 1989 to 1992. He has played on the European Seniors Tour since 2008, and drew attention when he came in second twice during the first year and three times last year. Thanks to these good placements, he finished the 2009 season in fifth place. He proved that he is a golfer to be reckoned with when he shared third place with Sam Torrance in the Mauritius championship last December, which counts as part of this season.
Who could forget the thrilling play-off that Bob Boyd lost to the South African John Bland in Bad Ragaz last year? Boyd had already been unlucky at the Irish Seniors Open two months previously, when he lost a hard-fought play-off to Ian Woosnam. His luck was not so bad, however, in 2006: after being diagnosed with leukaemia, he fought the disease and after making a successful recovery, returned to the golf course to win a championship in North Carolina in December that same year.
Costantino Rocca (Italien)
Rocca hails from Bergamo and is the most successful Italian international golfer to date, although he did not quite match his best form last year. This permanently cheerful golfer is always a welcome contestant in Bad Ragaz. He already finished second to Carl Mason once in 2007. Who knows, maybe this time he will finally achieve his ambition of a victory, after an upset stomach put paid to his hopes two years ago, and a wrist injury thwarted his chances in 2009.
Born in Zimbabwe, Tony Johnstone can look back on a decade of ups and downs. After his last victory on the European Tour, at the Qatar Masters in 2001, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003. After successful therapy, he rejoined the professional scene on the 2007 Seniors with a hole-in-one in Bad Ragaz, followed by his first victory and «personal triumph» at the 2008 Jersey Seniors Classic. He even managed to top that performance in 2009 when he won the Travis Perkins Senior Masters.