Thursday, 15 September 2011
Peter Mitchell believes a return to the scene of his last European Senior Tour win can reignite his game and bring him back to the form of old at the Casa Serena Open this week, laying down the gauntlet by saying that he is even confident of a victory.
The Englishman had an incredible Rookie season on the Senior Tour in 2008, winning three times and finishing third in the Order of Merit, but hasn’t quite been able to match that form of late.
As he panned his eyes over the pristine fairways of Casa Serena Golf ahead of Thursday’s Pro-Am, however, Mitchell could not help but feel rejuvenated by a venue where he has never finished outside of the top 10 in three visits and claimed his fourth Senior Tour title in 2009.
“Like anything, you look at golf courses and they can look great to you or you can feel a little bit inhibited and this place just always looks great to me, I come here and visually it suits my eye, it suits my game,” he enthused.
“I love it here, I think it’s fantastic. If you just go for a walk around the course it’s beautiful, and the golf course is a bit more open than others so you can let rip a little bit off the tee so in that sense it sets me up a little bit because I'm hitting a lot of short irons in.
“I am more confident now than I have been all year, I've just got to go and play and be comfortable and if I do that it wouldn’t surprise me if I won to be honest, and it probably wouldn’t surprise anybody else. I've got the game to win so you’ve just got to go out there and just let it go.”
The three time European Tour winner started 2011 on a positive note, with three consecutive top 20 finishes but suffered a dip in form thereafter thanks to a combination of a back injury and a difficulty getting to grips with new clubs.
But a tied 13th finish at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters appears to have instilled a new sense of confidence in the 53 year old as he returns to the Czech Republic.
“I played nicely, very solid, I changed my driver and it’s made a big difference,” he continued. “I'm actually hitting the ball quite straight now which is nice so that’s setting me up a bit more.”
The pick of the Round One draw sees Mitchell paired alongside 24 time Senior Tour winner Carl Mason and Ian Woosnam, who is chasing a second win this season and sits fourth in the Order of Merit.
The Order of Merit leader Peter Fowler tees off alongside another former Ryder Cup captain and Casa Serena debutante Mark James as well as another Englishman, Roger Chapman.
Barry Lane, meanwhile, enters this week’s tournament on a hot run of form after he followed up his win at the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open with a second place finish in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club.
The 51 year old, who is splitting his schedule with The European Tour where he is 135th on The Race to Dubai, is currently €33,503 behind Fowler in the Senior Tour Order of Merit and was a late entry to the Casa Serena Open, seeing it as the ideal opportunity to close that gap.
The Casa Serena Open carries one of the biggest prize funds on the 2011 Senior Tour schedule at €400,000 and comes at a crucial point in the race for the John Jacobs Trophy, meaning many of the biggest names in senior golf have journeyed to the quaint, historic region of Kutná Hora in search of glory this week.
Sam Torrance arrives on the back of a positive performance in Woburn, where he finished tied fifth alongside this week’s defending champion Gary Wolstenholme and Fowler, who is hoping to stretch his lead at the summit of the Order of Merit.
Wolstenholme also has the Order of Merit high on his priority list this week, having announced his intentions to finish in the top five in his first year as a full Senior Tour member.
The six-time Walker Cup player is currently ahead of Tim Thelen in the race for the Rookie of the Year award and, like Mitchell, has fond memories of the Casa Serena Open.