European Seniors Tour Starts

The European Seniors Tour Kicks off its year tomorrow...

European Seniors Tour Starts

Tommy Horton can point a finger of blame at one of his young pupils in Spain
if he doesn't succeed in winning the seasonal curtain-raiser on the European
Seniors Tour for the fifth year in a row in Barbados tomorrow (Thursday).

Horton, 60 in June and a tournament winner in each of the last nine years,
competes in the second Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open having endured a
painfully curtailed preparation to the 2001 season.

The remarkably resilient Channel Islander, who won the Seniors Order of
Merit four years in a row between 1996 and 1999, missed eight weeks of his
build up to his defence of the title at Royal Westmoreland Golf Club after
being hit on his right forefinger on January 5.

He explained: "I was teaching some Spanish juniors in Valencia and I had
asked one youngster to get to the top of his backswing. I was standing too
close and didn't realise he was going to complete the full swing with a
pitching wedge.

"The club hit me on the tip of my right forefinger and crushed it. I needed
stitches and couldn't swing a club for eight weeks. I was really worried as
a golfer's hands are his fortune. Even now it feels tender and when I touch
the tip I can feel a sharp shock.

"I've only played three or four rounds in readiness for my title defence. I
tried to train when I couldn't hit shots but I had to stop as the finger
throbbed so badly. It seems that when the blood started to circulate it
affected that area."

As he approaches his tenth anniversary as a Senior golfer, Horton is not the
only player in the field to run into problems. Scotland's David Huish,
winner of two titles in 2000, had six weeks out due to shingles and said:
"I've never known pain like it. I only managed 29 holes before flying out

Australian Noel Ratcliffe begins his defence of the Order of Merit title in
the event, which is played for two days in a Pro-Am formet and reverts to
professionals only in Saturday's last round. Also in the field in Denis
O'Sullivan from Cork, who is attempting to complete a long-range hat-trick
of titles. He won the last two events of the 2000 season and goes for his
third in Barbados.

Among the celebrities involved are footballer turned Hollywood star Vinnie
Jones, football turned pundit Gary Lineker, comedian Jasper Carrott and
musician John Lodge of Moody Blues fame.

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