NEWPORT'S Philip Price, one of the stars of the 2002 Ryder Cup, will become the latest player to make their European Senior Tour debut as he turns 50 today.

The veteran star, who secured a crucial point for the European team at The Belfry 14 years ago by beating then world number two Phil Mickelson 3&2, will tee off in the first round of the Senior Italian Open this morning.

And Price, who won on three occasions on the European Tour, says that his debut at at Golf Club Udine has been a few years in the making.

“It’s really exciting,” said Price. “It’s been over two years since I played regularly on Tour. It has been a bit of a waiting game, turning 50.

“I’ve been waiting two years for this. I’m really enthused and looking forward to playing against people my own age. I want my Senior Tour career to last as long as it can.

“There may be a few nerves but I’ve seen enough of the guys over the last few years that it doesn’t feel odd. I’ve played a couple of events where we play over-48s, so I’ve seen everyone a little bit.”

Price is looking forward to teeing it up alongside his former amateur partner Stephen Dodd, who also made his debut earlier this year.

“We were partners when we played amateur golf for Wales, me and Doddy,” he said. “It’s funny how we’ve turned 50 in the same year and come here together.

“It’s a shame my birthday is so late in the year, but it gives me a bit more time to hone my game and be ready for the first tournament in 2017.”

Joining Price in the 57-man field is fellow Ryder Cup hero, and home favourite, Costantino Rocca. The three-time Ryder Cup player said he is excited to play his first Senior Tour tournament on home soil since 2010.

“I play in my home country every day, but this tournament is very important for Italian golf,” said Rocca. “It’s good for everyone because the Senior Tour will benefit from having this tournament here and we want to keep it going as long as we can."