THERE are few people in sport who can say they were the greatest player in their discipline.
One who can is 1991 Masters Champion Ian Woosnam, who not only reached the pinnacle of world golf, he called it home for 50 weeks.
The Welshman, affectionately called ‘Woosie’, has called Jersey home since 1993, but his love affair with the most southerly British Isle began long before.
Jersey, once upon a time, was a European Tour venue and hosted the Jersey Open between 1978 and 1995 – an event that Woosie played in multiple times and claimed the title in 1987.
He said: ‘It was one of my favourite spots to come during the season.
‘Every pro really enjoyed coming to Jersey. I think it was a combination of the hospitality, the lovely golf course [La Moye] and the atmosphere.
‘It felt like a relaxing trip and a bit of a party atmosphere and the pros really liked that.
‘When I got the chance to move here in 1993, I jumped at it.
‘It was always a place I wanted to move to, it has everything for me.
‘Jersey is such a beautiful place and it was ideal to raise the kids here.’
Since the removal of Jersey from the European Tour rota, La Moye has since played host to the Jersey Seniors Open, which ran from 1996 to 2016 – which again gave Woosnam the chance to compete at the place he now called home.
The event has not been played for the past five years, but the senior tour rebrand under the name the Legends Tour will once again return to the historic St Brelade links.
‘It’s been lovely to be so involved in the tournament,’ said the 64-year-old.
‘We are all excited to welcome the players back to Jersey and also give the residents something to be excited about.
‘The funny thing is, most of the people I talk to are more excited to come out and watch the celebrities tee it up, than the professionals.
‘We are looking forward to seeing how the tournament goes and having this stop back on the calendar.
‘Hopefully going forward, we can make improvements to keep on progressing the scale of the event.’
For the past Masters Champion, there has been a transition to the way he now views the sport of golf.
He decided not to exercise his right as a past winner and compete in the Masters Tournament this year.
‘I was at Augusta for the champions dinner, which is always a brilliant event.
‘I also had a knock on the Sunday the week before and didn’t make it around the course.
‘The par-three competition is always a great spectacle and I played in that, but was shattered afterwards – there is no way I would have been able to make it around that golf course for the main event.
‘I am still competitive and aim to win if I am playing events.
‘But for me, golf is now much more about the social side of things.
‘The sport keeps me active and gives me a chance to get out and about with friends.
‘After you retire from any job, there is a risk that you could become lazy and immobile and the sport of golf has allowed me to continue to be active, while also maintaining enjoyment through competition.’
The Jersey Legends event, which takes place between 9-12 June boasts three past major champions in the event.
Paul Lawrie [1999 Open] and Michael Campbell [2005 US Open] will join Woosnam in the strong field.
The celebrity presence also lives up to expectations, with AP McCoy MBE confirmed, winner of 20 consecutive Champion Jockey awards – as well as Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.