Date: October 20, 2010

Baker-Finch ready to celebrate half century

Ian Baker-Finch will commemorate his coming of age as he officially becomes a senior golfer this Sunday when celebrating his long awaited 50th birthday, ahead of the Handa Australian Senior Open. Making his debut on the global stage at Royal Perth Golf Club on 19 November 2010, Baker-Finch is feeling positive about his return to professional competitive golf after spending the last 15 years focusing on a career in commentating and golf course design. I m really looking forward to coming back to Perth and playing Royal Perth Golf Club, where incidentally I won the WA Open in 1984, said Baker-Finch. All the guys that played the 2009 tournament raved about the quality of golf course, so I m really looking forward to getting back there and playing it again after 16 years! Although relishing the opportunity to debut at the Handa Australian Senior Open, Baker-Finch is wary of the other players in the field who still make a living playing full time on the senior circuits around the world. It’s crazy to think I could play as well as guys like Peter Senior, Mike Harwood or Ian Woosnam who still play golf full time; but I definitely want to be competitive and will be going out there to win. Baker-Finch admitted to previously feeling like he still had something to prove and playing again as a senior would allow him to end his playing career on his terms. However, with the prospect of competition now upon him, he conceded he no longer felt like that and was just looking forward to spending time with old friends and having a good time. Baker-Finch also indicated his intentions during the twilight years of his career. I will continue to be an announcer 25 weeks of the year and work on my golf course design but will try to play half a dozen senior tournaments as well for the next few years. Baker-Finch will be joined by a cast of Australian legends including Wayne Grady, Peter Senior and local favourite Terry Gale, as well as a long list of European household names who join the field after a 3-year co-sanctioning deal with the European Senior Tour which was announced earlier this year. Also looking forward to visiting sunny Western Australia is Major Winner and ISPS Ambassador Ian Woosnam who last played in Perth at the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic hosted by Lake Karrinyup Country Club. I have really fond memories of Perth and have always played reasonably well there so I m looking forward to it experiencing some warm weather and getting my golf back into some form, said Woosnam. When asked about his game leading up to the Handa Australian Senior Open, which will be the first tournament on the 2011 European Senior Tour Order of Merit, Woosnam admitted the 2010 season hadn t been one of his best but was looking forward to ending the calendar year strongly and making a good start to the next season. I played last week down in France and not very successfully. I haven t been practicing hard enough so I ve now got 3 weeks off to work on my game before heading to Australia and hopefully finishing the year off strongly. Woosnam and Baker-Finch together with Sandy Lyle and Sam Torrance are global ambassadors for Dr Handa s organisation ISPS (International Sports Promotion Society), which aims to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds into the game. ISPS has a long-standing commitment to raise the profile of blind golf and to foster opportunities for people with disabilities to take up the sport. Talking further about the role of ISPS and blind golf, Ian Woosnam added: I think it s great that Dr Handa can put his money towards charity and developing Blind Golf. There s been a tremendous reaction to Blind Golf so far and he’s working hard to get golf and blind people into the Paralympics in a really great way. The Handa Australian Senior Open will be played at Royal Perth Golf Club from 19-21 November 2010. This is the second year the tournament will be hosted by Royal Perth Golf Club after an exciting finish to the 2009 event that went down to the wire in a sudden death 3 way play-off between eventual winner Mike Harwood, Michael Clayton and Peter Senior. Harwood will return to defend his title in November. Entry to event is by gold coin donation with all proceeds going to support Blind Golf in Western Australia