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Friday, 09 November 2018
Tom Lehman  (Getty Images)
Tom Lehman (Getty Images)
Former United States Ryder Cup Captain and 1996 Open Champion Tom Lehman can’t wait to return to paradise as he prepares for the inaugural MCB Tour Championship Indian Ocean Swing.

Set to travel more than 11,000 miles to play this year, Lehman, winner of the MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius in 2011, insists he is not planning on making up the numbers as the 2018 Staysure Tour season draws to a close in the Indian Ocean.

For the first time in its history, the Indian Ocean will host two Staysure Tour events in consecutive weeks, the first taking place at Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius, from December 7-9, and the second at Constance Lemuria in the Seychelles from December 14-16.

“I had no idea what to expect the first time I went to Mauritius, but I left singing the praises of everything – the accommodation, the food, the service and the golf course itself,” said the 59 year old. “You go to any golf tournament with the expectation of playing well and winning. You don’t travel around the world to finish last, so to go there and win in 2011 was very satisfying.

“In MCB we have what I consider to be an amazing title sponsor. MCB and Raoul (Gufflet, Deputy CEO, MCB) are perfect partners for an event like this. Raoul and his staff are committed to making the tournament the best it could possibly be. It’s very hard to beat.

“Over the years I’ve become very good friends with Raoul and Jean-Jacques Vallet (CEO, Constance Hotels). They treat all the golfers so well, and we do our best to return the favour.

“Mauritius is one of my favourite places I’ve ever travelled to, and I’ve been fortunate to have visited Seychelles before. We went there for my wife’s 50th birthday and stayed at Constance Lemuria. I’ve played the golf course, so I know what to expect.”

Lehman credited South Africa’s David Frost, who initially persuaded the American to participate in the first MCB Tour Championship seven years ago.

“Frosty has been a tremendous advocate of the tournament over the years,” Lehman added. “I’m not sure I’d have gone if not for him telling us how remarkable the event was. He’s been a real friend of the event and a lot of credit goes to him for talking it up so much. He’s done a great job being an ambassador for that part of the world.”

After returning to the winners’ circle earlier this year on the PGA TOUR Champions circuit, Lehman believes his game is strong enough to contend at the Staysure Tour’s season-ending events.

“I played well at The Open, and just missed the cut by one, then I finished sixth at the Senior Open at St Andrews. It’s been a long season, but overall my game has been very good and I’m very happy with where it’s at.

“As you get older it becomes more of a challenge to look at ways to get better, maintain form and compete at a high level; it takes a lot of commitment and discipline. But events like these really give you something to look forward to. I don’t want to go and play poorly – I’m working hard and I want to be proud of how I play over there.

“I’ve won tournaments on six continents, and it’s something I’m very proud of. My career has always been global, I played on the mini Tours when I started my career and spent a great deal of time playing in Asia and South Africa.

“The world becomes a smaller place when you travel around. It’s something I’ve appreciated. There’s a fraternity of players who have travelled the world and are willing to support tournaments wherever they are – European Tour players have always been good at that.

“The Indian Ocean is far for me to travel, but it’s my way of supporting golf in that region and golf on the Staysure Tour. To be a top, top player you have to be willing to travel and play golf around the world.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1DENNIS, ClarkUSA18-23
2ATLEVI, Magnus PSWE18-15
3CHAPMAN, RogerENG18-13
T4MCGINLEY, PaulIRL18-12
T4PRICE, PhillipWAL18-12
6LEHMAN, TomUSA18-11

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