Senior becomes oldest Australian Open champion at 53 years of age.
Peter Senior won his first Australian Open in 1989 and now, 23 years later at the age of 53, he has again won the Stonehaven Trophy in a day full of drama at The Lakes in Sydney.
“I really thought these days were over. 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.” Senior said.
Senior’s victory was remarkable considering the conditions. He did not miss a fairway on a cold, blustery day which saw only six players finish under par for the tournament. Senior estimates he only missed around three fairways all week in what must be a triumph for senior golfers all over the country.
“The biggest thing on a day like this is your start. I started with three pars. I played with Matty Jones who bogeyed the first two holes. That sort of sets the momentum for the rest of the day. I made a couple of errors in the middle of the front nine but I felt I was hitting it good enough to keep it in play. That is the hardest thing to do on a day like this, keep your ball in play and judge the wind.” Senior said.
Interestingly, the best round of the day went to the oldest competitor in the field, Tom Watson. The eight-time major champion felt as good as he had all week after suffering a cold and jetlag to record a 3-under par 69 and finish in a tie for 28th.
Just over three hours of play was lost when tournament officials suspended the tournament as 80 kph winds smashed The Lakes Golf Club, knocking over a TV tower on the 18th green and blowing golf balls up to five feet on some greens.
Desperate to finish the tournament, organisers resumed play resumed in conditions that were very similar to when play was suspended.
“I really did not think we would get finished today. When we went back out it had not improved at all. I don’t think there were any incidents like there were earlier when it was called. It was one of the toughest days I have seen on a golf course.” Senior said after his round.
Players struggled to adjust after the suspension. Tournament leader John Senden giving up his two shot lead on the opening hole after an errant drive that finished in the nursery right of the fairway, followed by a recovery shot that found the water hazard. Senden never recovered and to shoot a 10-over par 80 and fall well out of the top-10.
Former Australian amateur champion Kim Felton managed to avoid danger for most of his round to post an even par round and assume clubhouse leader at 1-under par.
Brendan Jones began his day at 2-under and proceeded to drop four shots in his opening four holes and looked dead and buried. Jones picked up birdies at the 6th, 12th and 14th holes before an incredible eagle at the downwind 17th hole saw him as the new clubhouse leader at 3-under for the tournament.
Justin Rose only found his swing on the final nine holes. Through 10 holes the Englishman had dropped three shots but two birdies on the 12th and 14th holes and Rose suddenly looked capable of chasing down the clubhouse leader. A bogey on the 16th meant Rose needed to make up two shots on the final holes to force a playoff with Senior but was always going to be a tough ask in the conditions.
Senior’s victory comes on the back of another successful year on the Champions Tour earning over $1million including 10 top-10s and 18 top-25s in 23 starts. Senior had not tasted tournament success since beating Geoff Ogilvy in a playoff at the 2010 Australian PGA Championship where he will return this week on a course that he openly admits suits his game.