Peter Senior, at 56-years-old has won his third Australian Masters at Huntingdale.
There is an old truism in golf that says ‘it doesn’t matter how you do it, just get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible’. We all yearn for consistency, to ‘do it’ well now and again.
Peter Senior has been doing it well for over 40 years with a golf swing that no golf instructor on the planet would tell anyone to emulate. But if you’re looking for consistency; consistency across the decades – this swing has no peer in Australian golf.
Senior did it again today at Huntingdale when he won the 2015 UNIQLO Australian Masters by two strokes over the more likely, and much younger trio of John Senden, Bryson DeChambeau and Andrew Evans.
The victory meant that the 56-year-old has now won the Australian Masters three times; 1991, 1995 and 2015. But more incredibly, Senior has won each of the Australian triple-crown golf tournaments since he turned 50; the Australian PGA Championship at 51 in 2010, the Australian Open at 53 in 2012 and now the Australian Masters at 56 in 2015.
“To win this tournament, the Aussie Open a few years ago and the PGA a couple of years before that, all of them over 50 years of age, I think that’s a big thing for me,” Senior said.
“Nearly every hole on the back nine everyone was cheering me, even my poor shots. It was just great. I have not had that sort of following for a very, very long time. It sort of encouraged me.”
Entering the final round in a tie for third spot, Senior got off to a flying start when he made birdies on the two opening holes. The crafty veteran gave both shots back at the fourth and fifth holes before nailing two more consecutive birdies, arriving at the turn at 6-under par.
Senior mentioned after the round that he usually plays the long, difficult par-4 10th hole as a par-5, so when he rolled his approach shot to within a few feet suddenly another victory looked a real possibility. Could Peter Senior really win the Australian Masters 24 years after he first won at Huntingdale in 1991?
As the contenders for the gold jacket fell away including overnight leader Matthew Millar, John Senden, Andrew Evans and Michael Sim – Senior opened up a three-stroke lead when his birdie at the 13th got him to 9-under for the tournament.
The result appeared a formality with few expecting the experienced Senior to make a mistake coming home.
But a mistake came. It came at the par-4 17th hole when Senior found the trees down the right. The resulting bogey, combined with back-to-back birdies from the unheralded Andrew Evans saw the tournament was back on and the result in the air.
After Evans made bogey at the 17th, Senior showed all his experience to get up-and-down for par on the final hole meaning Evans had to make birdie to force a playoff.
In the biggest moment of his career, Evans found the green in regulation but his birdie putt came up frustratingly short handing the gold jacket to Senior. A three-putt only added to Evans’ frustration and sent him back into a three-way tie for third place alongside John Senden and American amateur Bryson Dechambeau.
Most golf fans had expected Adam Scott to make a charge and for a brief period early in the afternoon it appeared the former US Masters champion was making a charge. After a couple of birdies in his opening six holes, Scott made a disastrous double-bogey. And with firmer greens and tougher pins, a low score to chase down the leaders was always going to be a tough ask.
Without wanting to take the gloss off of this history-making moment, there is an elephant in the room and it is in the shape of the long putter.
As of January 1, 2016 the anchoring technique that Peter Senior uses to swing his long putter will be banned. It must be tempting for Senior to pack it in and retire on the millions he has made getting the ball around the golf course very well for a very long time.
Senior has reportedly said that he plans to continue using the long putter without anchoring it. This victory comes after shaking off a shoulder injury that forced him out of the Australian tournaments last year, and with a combined total of over US$5million in winnings since playing on the US Champions Tour, who can blame him for continuing to tee it up.
At 56-years of age, Peter Senior did it better than everyone else this week. And it would be a fool to think that he couldn’t do it again.