MARATHON Man Gordon J Brand will return to Slaley Hall this summer targeting a repeat victory in the £250,000 De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship.
But the 53-year-old, who hails from Yorkshire, will be hoping to achieve the feat in regulation play at this year's event, which is being staged from June 25 to 28, after his strength-sapping efforts at the Northumberland resort last year.
The former Ryder Cup player needed a record-equalling six hole play-off and an extra 90 minutes to see off the challenge of namesake Gordon Brand Junior in a battle of the Brands to lift the European Senior Tour's flagship event in 2008.
He said: "I always felt I had a good chance of winning it and probably should have won it without the play-off but it was a tough day."
Brand's victory at Slaley Hall proved a catalyst for a run of form that was quickly followed with more success at Woburn which eventually fired him to a second place finish behind Ian Woosnam in the European Senior Tour Order of 0Merit.
He has been practicing hard for the season at his Portuguese base at Pinheiros Altos on the Algarve and admits he will approach the tournament at the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course full of confidence.
"The course suits me, it's a big course and you need to be fairly accurate and although I'm not the longest hitter I can hit longer irons fairly straight," he said.
"It was a great achievement to win last year on what I consider a good golf course. It would be nice to have a chance to win back-to-back titles because it doesn't happen very often so that is definitely one of the goals.
"I suppose I've got a certain amount of confidence because it's a course that's to my liking. When you go back you don't always do well on the same holes but you've more of a chance of doing well if it's a course you enjoy playing."
An added bonus of Brand's triumph last year was his automatic entry into the USPGA Senior Championship at the Canterbury Golf Club in Ohio, which was getting underway as this issue of Golf North East went to press.
Daniel Hodson, De Vere's director of golf and Leisure, commented: "The field for this year's event will be as strong as any I have seen on the European Senior Tour, and it will be great to see some of the best senior players in Europe tested over the Hunting Course.
"If the finish is anything like as exciting as the 'Battle of the Brands' from last year we are in for a real treat."
Golf fans eager to see the stars in action can take advantage of a limited number of complimentary tickets for the tournament, which are available to download at: www.devere-hotels.co.uk/pga
Get interactive at Seniors
SPECTATORS will have the chance to both watch and play at the De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship from June 25 to 28 with a special interactive golf zone.
The Nike sponsored zone at Slaley Hall will include free tuition with the resort's team of PGA professionals plus a fantastic opportunity for golfers of all abilities to get custom-fitted and put their swing characteristics to the test on the impressive Flightscope software.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to measure up by testing out the latest Nike products to hit the market.
The zone will be located within easy reach of the practice range where stars like Sam Torrance and defending champion Gordon J Brand will fine-tune their swings ahead of the £250,000 tournament.
Opening hours for the interactive zone will be from 10am-4pm on tournament days from Thursday to Sunday.
Last year more than 1,000 spectators sampled the experience and Keith Pickard, Slaley Hall's golf and leisure director, is expecting it to be popular again.
"I think people enjoyed the chance to combine watching some great players from the Seniors Tour with having a hit themselves," he said.
"The interactive zone is open to everyone - all they have to do is come along and register and it's completely free."