With the British Masters just around the corner, 1993 winner Peter Baker has given his top tips of who to look out for in this year’s tournament, as well as revisiting his own iconic victory, almost 25 years on.
Baker’s first triumph as a professional came in the 1988 Benson and Hedges International Open, defeating Nick Faldo in a play-off, aged just 20 years old, announcing his arrival on the world golfing stage. However, his career stalled slightly, so that when he arrived at Woburn for the 1993 British Masters, he wasn’t strongly fancied to defeat the likes of Masters champion Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, and Faldo for victory.
An opening round of 67 put Peter right in the mix, followed by an even better score of 64 in round two that cemented his place as one of the contenders for the title. However, a third round of 72 left him looking like an outsider, and a long favourite ahead of the final shootout. A scintillating score of 63 saw him jump into the lead and win by a mammoth seven strokes ahead of Carl Mason in second.
Baker said of his achievement: “I’d come from a top 20 finish at Wentworth couple of weeks before, where I’d started playing better and felt confident - I was at Woburn that week with my wife and then 8-month old daughter Georgina, who cried all week! You could say my preparation was slightly strange.
“Even though I was six shots ahead on the last day, I didn’t relax until later on – it was huge for me, it shot me straight up the Order of Merit list and gave me a shot at making the Ryder Cup team too.”
His British Masters success led to his inclusion in 1993’s Europe side, led by captain Bernard Gallacher OBE, and Peter proved to be a talisman for the team, in an eventual 15-13 defeat to the United States. He took 3 out of a possible 4 points, and defeated Corey Pavin in some style in the singles.
The field at this year’s British Masters, to be hosted at Close House in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is a strong one, with four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and the current Masters champion Sergio Garcia among the ranks, and British star Lee Westwood hosting – but who does Baker see as challenging for the coveted trophy?
He said: “There’s a lot of guys in contention, with McIlroy and Garcia joining the tournament and Westwood’s played around there before, and of course is host for the week.
“It’s hard to choose one name, as there’s a lot of great golfers nowadays, but it’d be great if one of the big names could do it. It’d be interesting to see who’ll come out on top too, as they’re all competing for Ryder Cup qualifying points, too.
“The support for the week will be fantastic, the Northumberland crowd love their golf, and with such a great field I’m sure it’ll be an exciting finish on Sunday.”
And next month will see Baker’s return to professional golf complete, as he hosts the first-ever Farmfoods European Senior Masters, a European Senior Tour event that will bring competitive golf back to the Midlands region for the first time in over a decade. Taking place between the 19-22 October at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, the event will see the likes of Paul McGinley, Ian Woosnam OBE and Gary Wolstenholme MBE battle for first place and a €50,000 first prize, as part of the total €200,000 prize fund.
It’ll also serve as Peter’s first European Senior Tour event, his birthday at the beginning of the month marking his entry to the European Senior Tour itself. He added: “I’m delighted to be joining the European Senior Tour and hosting the first-ever European Senior Masters.
“The Forest of Arden is a tough course, so it’ll be a good test to see where my golf is.
David MacLaren, head of the European Senior Tour, said: “Everyone remembers Peter’s British Masters win, and it’s fantastic to have him heading up the first-ever Farmfoods European Senior Masters on his debut no less.”
To register for FREE tickets to the European Senior Masters, please visit: https://europeanseniormasters.com/booking/event-ticket/2017.