Less than a week after his emotional farewell to the British Open at St. Andrews, Tom Watson is going for a record fourth title in the British Senior Open on the Old Course at Sunningdale.
The 65-year-old Watson won the seniors event at Turnberry in 2003, Royal Aberdeen in 2005 and Muirfield in 2007.
"I've had a hard look at the course and remembered some of the things that you need to have in your arsenal to play this course," Watson said Wednesday. "I have to go through a lot of players to win, and it would be extra special at my age.
"I hope on Sunday night you are asking me the question: 'How does it feel to be Senior Open champion for the fourth time?'"
Watson missed the cut last week in his final appearance in the British Open.
Bernhard Langer strolled to a 13-shot victory on the fast hard links at Royal Porthcawl in South Wales last year, and the U.S.-based German is among the favorites this time.
With conditions on the heathland course on the outskirts of London much the same as last July for the start of this year's championship, Langer begins his title defense Thursday alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez and Fred Couples, who won the title at Turnberry in 2012.
Langer, who played all four rounds at St. Andrews last week, considers his game to be in good shape.
"I think I'm fairly close," he said. "There's always improvement possible here and there. But it's not far away. Just trying to keep it in play and avoid mistakes and hopefully make tons of birdies."
Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and U.S. Senior Open champion Jeff Maggert will tee off in a stellar three-ball alongside Watson.
"I know my way around here as much as anyone," Montgomerie said. "I do perhaps have an advantage of knowing the course. But the standard of play is extremely high, a hair's breadth from the PGA Tour itself, and most of the top seniors are here."
Also in the field is Loren Roberts, winner at Turnberry in 2006 and Sunningdale in 2009, the only other time the Berkshire course staged the Senior Open. Others include Russ Cochrane, winner at Walton Heath in 2011, and Mark Wiebe, who beat Langer in a playoff at Royal Birkdale in 2013.
Langer more than made up for that defeat with his performance last year at Porthcawl, posting rounds of 65-66-68-67 for an 18-under total of 266, with Montgomerie a distant second at 279.
Langer also has done well before at Sunningdale, when he won the old European Open in 1986. He is one of five winners of that title playing, along with Nick Faldo (1992), Ian Woosnam (1988), Gordon Brand Jr. (1984) and Peter Senior (1990).
Winners on this year's Champions Tour in the U.S., including Lee Janzen, Mark Calcavecchia and Jerry Smith, are among 56 Americans in the 144-strong field.