A fantastic cause
The Willow Senior Golf Classic raises funds for the Willow Foundation, a Hertfordshire-based charity which delivers Special Days for seriously ill young adults between the ages of 16-40.
Founded by former Arsenal goalkeeper and TV presenter Bob Wilson and his wife Megs as a lasting memorial to their daughter Anna, who died of cancer aged 31, the Foundation has fulfilled more than 15,000 Special Days.
Anna created the idea of Special Days, which saw her focus on quality of time and quality of life with her family and friends.
Entry to the Willow Senior Golf Classic is free with a £5 charge for car parking – all proceeds go to the Willow Foundation.
Record breaker returns
At last year’s Willow Senior Golf Classic, 1993 Ryder Cup player Barry Lane etched his name in the record books as he carded the lowest-ever round in Staysure Tour history.
Starting his second round two strokes off the pace, Lane made seven birdies on the front nine and a further five on the back nine to sign for a round of 60, 12 under par.
He then maintained his five-stroke advantage as he finished ahead of Scotland’s Gary Orr to win his sixth Staysure Tour title. His tournament score of 22 under par was also a new record, which was broken by Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant at the MCB Tour Championship later that year.
The first two winners of the Willow Senior Golf Classic were English, and furthermore six of the nine golfers who have finished inside the top three at Hanbury Manor have been from the United Kingdom.
Runner-up to Barry Lane in 2017 was Orr, in his debut season on the Staysure Tour, with Englishman Paul Wesselingh finishing in third on 15 under par.
The year before, Gary Marks claimed his first Staysure Tour title ahead of compatriot Phil Golding and Scotland’s Ross Drummond, who both shared third place.
Ryder Cup pedigree
Competition is sure to be fierce at this week’s event as Lane is joined by more than a dozen fellow former Ryder Cup players.
Lane is joined by Peter Baker, Gordon Brand Jnr, Gordon J Brand, Eamonn Darcy, David Gilford, 1999 Captain Mark James, José Rivero, Phillip Price, Costantino Rocca, Jarmo Sandelin, Des Smyth, Jean van de Velde and Philip Walton.
The Ryder Cup stars in the field are also joined by two Senior Major Champions, Roger Chapman and Mark McNulty. Chapman won an American double in 2012, becoming the first European to win both the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open in the same season, and McNulty won the JELD-WEN Tradition in 2007.
300 not out
Nick Job will become just the second player in history to reach the milestone of 300 appearances on the Staysure Tour when he tees it up this week.
The Englishman made his debut at the 1999 Energis Senior Masters at Wentworth and has won five times on the over-50s circuit.
Denis O’Sullivan became the first golfer to make 300 appearances at the 2016 SSE Enterprise Wales Senior Open, and Job will join the 300 club just over a month after his 69th birthday.
Job recently recorded his best result since the 2016 Acorn Jersey Open at last week’s VTB Russian Open Golf Championship (Senior), finishing T15.