Turner aiming to have a knees-up alongside the legends

A Yorkshireman who had a knee replacement operation just eight months ago tees off alongside some of the greats of golf at Birkdale today.

Laurie Turner, 51, of Rawdon, Leeds, contests the Senior British Open on the Lancashire coast after qualifying courtesy of a round of 73 at Hillside.

He takes his place alongside the likes of Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie and defending champion Fred Couples just months after undergoing major surgery.

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Turner, who plays out of the American Golf Centre at Menston said: “This time last year I was struggling to complete 18 holes and had to cut short a few rounds. I began to think about giving up golf and started to look at other things I could do instead.

“To go from that position to competing in the Senior Open is such a great feeling. The response I’ve received since qualifying has been great. My caddie is a customer from the American Golf Store and a few more regular faces are planning to come to Southport and support me.”

Qualifying for the Senior Open is the highlight of Turner’s career, which began at Hallamshire Golf Club in Sheffield – home, of course, to the Open’s top amateur, Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Turner added: “The target is to try and make the cut. It will be a big challenge given the standard of the field, the course conditions and the possibility of bad weather. Whatever the outcome, I’ll enjoy the weekend and my aim is to return next year.”

Sheffield’s Malcolm Mackenzie, Ilkley’s former Ryder Cup captain Mark James and John King, of Lindrick, are also in action.

Malton’s Simon Dyson and Hull’s Richard Finch are in European Tour action at the M2M Russian Open.

Dyson has found some much-need form of late with a fifth-place finish in France and 12th at the Scottish Open. He is 81st on the ‘Race to Dubai’ with a place in the top 60 in his sights.

Dyson said: “I really want to make the (end-of-season) Tour Championship and I have eight tournaments left to try and get into that top 60.

“If I can continue the form that I showed in France and Scotland then I will have a good chance because I have been playing really well recently and I just want to keep playing and keep that going.

“I am the kind of player who likes to play as much as they can and I knew during my last long run of nine events in a row that the results would come.

“I was actually shocked at how well I played in France because I have never played that well there and with six holes to play, I really had a chance to win it.

“I was really happy to finish fifth there on a very demanding golf course that I hadn’t really enjoyed before. So I am hoping to continue the form this week and see where it takes us.”