At 66 and with his sights firmly trained on a top 10 finish in this week’s British Seniors Open at Royal Porthcawl, Cork’s Denis O’Sullivan is focused.
It’s still remarkable that he forged a professional career on the Senior Tour, embracing the pro game at the age of 50 following a lifetime as an amateur.
It didn’t take O’Sullivan long to earn their total respect. In 2000, he enjoyed a marvellous double in the Seniors Tour of Champions and the Abu Dhabi Championship and further success followed a year later in the Palmerston Trophy in Berlin and the Scandinavian International, before visits to the winner’s enclosure continued in 2002 in Tunisia and in ’05 in Barbados.
Top-10 finishes have been regular and earlier this month he took second place and a cheque for €28,000 at the Bad Ragaz Open in Switzerland.
The outcome came as a massive boost for O’Sullivan, whose outstanding level of physical fitness has enabled him to make a remarkably quick recovery from knee surgery three months ago.
“Sure, I’m only a young fella,” he laughed. “I honestly feel as good as I did when in my 40s. Batt Murphy [his long-time coach] and son Jamie keep me well tutored and I love what I am doing. While I’ve always hit the ball well, I feel that I am now putting better than ever.”
As always, the British Seniors Open is the highlight of the season and O’Sullivan believes this week’s Royal Porthcawl course on the shores of the Bristol Channel will suit him.
“I really enjoyed it in the Welsh Seniors Open last year when I tied for sixth,” he said. “And if the weather cuts up rough as it can down there, that will be to my liking because I get stuck in more than some of the others who tend to give in.
“I had a practice round 12 months ago with Bernhard Langer, whom I had partnered in the championship the previous year, and Larry Mize. And then you have Colin Montgomerie coming off the back of his wins in the US Seniors PGA and Open Championships, Miguel Angel Jimenez — playing his first Seniors championship — Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and the holder Mark Wiebe, who beat Langer in a play-off last year.
“I would really love a top 10 finish. I know I can do it because I’m playing well enough.”
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