Frenchman Marc Farry survived a late scare to capture his second title of the 2010 season in the Cannes Mougins Masters and round off a perfect week for the 51 year old in his homeland.
Farry, who also co-organised the inaugural European Senior Tour event at Cannes Mougins, appeared to be cruising towards victory when he took a three stroke lead over Gordon Brand Jnr to the 17th hole.
But in the French Riviera city famous for its film festival, Farry’s victory parade almost turned into something from a horror movie when he hooked his second shot into bushes.
The home favourite, who up to that point had looked solid with two birdies and a bogey on his card, was forced to take an unplayable and eventually scrambled his way to a double bogey six to see his cushion reduced to one shot heading to the last hole.
He managed to compose himself and after both players found the green in regulation, Brand Jnr three putted from 25ft to leave Farry, whose first putt stopped three feet short of the hole, with an easy tap in for victory.
Farry’s closing 73, which followed rounds of 69 and 65, was enough for a nine under par total of 207 and a two stroke victory over former Ryder Cup player Brand Jnr, who was also runner up in the previous Senior Tour event, the Casa Serena Open.
It was Farry’s second title of the season following his victory in Handa Irish Senior Open presented by Fáilte in June and the €38,287 first prize, moved him up from 17th to ninth in the Order of Merit.
“It feels fantastic to win on home soil because I’ve been chasing a victory in France for more than 20 years on The European Tour and came close on a few occasions so it’s great to finally do it on the Senior Tour,” said Farry.
“I felt a lot of pressure today. The weather wasn’t great so it was very difficult. It had rained all night so the greens were soaked.
“Then on 17 I thought I had a good tee shot but my ball was up against the collar of the rough which was about 3cm high. I normally draw the ball but I told my caddy I didn’t like it because if I hit a little bit behind it the grass will grab the club and it will shut down on it. My crystal ball was right.
“I ended up in the bushes and it was unplayable and I took six, so coming down the last I only had a one shot lead, which was not what I expected as I played well all day. Gordon missed that short putt on the 18th which gave me that extra cushion and it was great to get the win.”
Farry added to his sole European Tour victory – the 1996 BMW International Open – when he won in Ireland in June and his victory in Cannes came in similar rainy conditions to his maiden Senior Tour triumph.
“I’ve played well in the rain in both tournaments but look at my tan – I’m more of a southern person!” he said. “Cannes Mougins is a pretty similar course to Carton House and the conditions were the same. Maybe it suits my game.”
Having helped attract the Senior Tour back to France after a three year absence, Farry was instrumental in the organisation of the €250,000 tournament and admitted his off course duties had limited his practice in the build up.
“I think I’m going to relax tonight as it wasn’t easy balancing both roles but I had a great team working with me and they’ve done a tremendous job,” he said. “I’d tried for so many years to win in France and I came close a few times but every time there seemed to be a terrible accident.
“Like in Bordeaux on The European Tour I was leading and took a seven on the par three and finished eighth so it was a big relief to win here today.”
Brand Jnr’s second consecutive second place moved him up to third in the Order of Merit behind Boonchu Ruangkit and Chris Williams and strenghthened his hopes of winning the John Jacobs Trophy with just three events remaining.
The Scot fought back after dropping four shots in his opening ten holes to birdie the 13th, 14th and 16th before his bogey on the last to finish on seven under par.
After starting with a triple bogey seven on the first, Englishman Mark Belsham, who was third in the Casa Serena Open, staged a remarkable recovery and holed a 25 ft birdie putt on the last to finish one stroke further adrift on six under in share of third place with compatriot Barry Lane (70) and Argentine Luis Carbonetti (70).