Gritty Senior takes second Aussie Open

There will be a lot of over 50 golfers celebrating in Australia tonight as one of their own has become the oldest player to win the Australian Open, two years after becoming the oldest player to win the Australian PGA Championship.

Senior won by one over Brendan Jones who staged a remarkable comeback from a slow start to his day to grab the outright lead when he eagled the 17th. Jones was then required to wait nearly an hour for his fate to be decided. Would he win his first Australian Open or would Senior win his second?

Jones had played his last 13 holes in 5 under and without a bogey and would have been a deserved winner if not for the gutsy effort by a man 16 years his senior.

Cameron Percy finished third while Kim Felton, Kieran Pratt and Justin Rose tied for 4th.

Rose, the leading world ranked player in the field stayed in touch until he bogeyed the 16th and 18th.

Overnight leader John Senden double bogeyed the first hole of the day and was never able to recover, eventually recording a round of 82 and a tie for 18th. It was an effort which will leave Senden wondering just what happened.

Senior produced a brilliant closing nine holes on a day where winds up to 80 kilometres an hour buffeted the Lakes Golf Club layout, so much so in fact that play was called off for nearly four hours and it then became a race to see whether play could be completed before dark.

Four groups were still to hit off when play recommenced just prior 3.00pm and with the likelihood of play not being able to proceed beyond 8.30, any further delays would mean a return on Monday morning.

Thankfully for the event and all concerned that would not be the case but if a playoff had been required then a Monday finish would have been necessary.

Senior did not miss a fairway all day and only missed two or three for the week which given the gusty conditions that prevailed for much of the week was an outstanding performance.

"I really thought these days were over," said Senior. "Golf is such a funny game. One minute you think you are down and the next minute you are up. I did not play particularly well this week but I got it up and down all week and today was no exception. The key to today's round was that I never put any pressure on myself with the putts. The chips and bunker shots were pretty close and were just tap-ins. I really did not have to work hard knocking four and five footers in across the breeze.

So was there a particular moment when Senior felt he could actually win the event? "I birdied 10. I actually got it up and down out of the bunker on the eighth for a par. I hit my second shot in the left bunker and left it in there. I had a long bunker shot. I got nine up and down. But when I birdied 10, I thought if I could shoot one under on the back nine, it's a chance. When I birdied the 12th I thought I had to make one more or hang on and I would have a serious chance. When I holed the 20-footer on 12, that was the time I started thinking I could win it."

Senior is renowned as a competitor. "I like being in contention, he said. "All the guys do. When I was playing my best golf through the late 80s, early 90s, I was one of those guys. Craig Parry was the same. Once we had a sniff, we hung on like rabid dogs. We hung on and hung on and hung on and at the end we sometimes came out on top. I have always been a fighter. When the conditions are tough I feel that half the guys are out of the competition because they think it is going to be too difficult. With me being as short as I am, I don't feel too much wind out there.

Next week Senior gets to fight again when he plays the PGA Championship at Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast, an event he has won on two previous occasions. In the form he is in (he finished 6th at the Talisker Masters also) and with his record at Coolum it would not be beyond belief that he could add a fourth Australian PGA title to his two Australian Opens.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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