Paul Wesselingh saved his best for last at the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship as he posted the lowest round of the week at De Vere Mottram Hall to set the seal on a four shot victory over Paraguay’s Angel Franco.
His staggering 20 under par total proved insurmountable for the chasing pack as he carded a flawless closing round of 64 to hold off competition from Franco and a charging Ian Woosnam, who applied the pressure early in the final round on his way to posting a 65 and a third place finish.
Starting the final round a shot clear of the chasing pack, Wesselingh got off to the ideal start with five birdies in his first ten holes, and when he followed that up with three gains on the spin from the 14th hole, there was no catching the former PGA Professional.
A closing birdie rounded off a superb week for Wesselingh, who won this event last year in only his third start on the European Senior Tour.
This impressive display also came on a course where the Englishman won his first professional tournament 19 years ago, at the PGA North Region Championship, and sees Wesselingh ascend to the top of the Senior Tour Order of Merit thanks to a winner’s cheque of €48,686.
He said: “It is unbelievable, I just can’t believe I’ve done it. I couldn’t believe I’d done it last year, and I can’t believe I’ve done it again this year.
“To win it two years on the trot with this quality of field is incredible. I just played the best I’ve ever played today, and my putter went red hot, I just holed everything.
“I’m not really a scoreboard watcher, but I was aware that Woosie was going well and Franco too so I was watching the board there. I was trying to give myself a two or three shot cushion going into 16 and 17, because anything can happen there, and I picked up one on 16 which is a real bonus. I felt that once I’d got to the 18th, I’d got the job done really.
“Last year was special because obviously it was my first one, but this one was even better because I did it in style really, and won by a reasonably good margin. I didn’t have to hang on as I moved away from the field with some good golf, which is always pleasing.”
Franco ended the week as Wesselingh’s nearest challenger, four shots adrift on 16 under par, and while the Paraguayan went bogey-free on Sunday to post a seven under par round of 66, it was not quite enough to catch the Englishman, who streaked clear of the field in the closing stretch.
However, Franco remained pleased with his efforts in his first start of the 2013 campaign.
He said: “It is good for me because the course is a difficult with very tricky greens, but it is a good start to the season for me as the practice I have put in with my putter and my driver has paid off.”
One shot further back in third was Woosnam, who finally found some of his best form during the final round, having spoken throughout the week about how well he was hitting it in practice.
The former World Number One and four time European Senior Tour winner, got his challenge off to the perfect start with an eagle at the par five first hole to halve his four shot deficit to the overnight leader Wesselingh, and followed that with further birdies at the third, seventh and ninth holes to apply a little bit more pressure.
He would post further red figures at the 11th, 14th and 18th holes to shoot his lowest round of the week, an eight under par 65, but had left himself with too much to do on the final day in light of Wesselingh’s fine form.
He said: “The difference today was I tried to keep my body and my swing more centred, and even though I hit one or two dodgy drives, for the most part I managed to keep it in play. There’s still some room for improvement but my game’s definitely getting there, so hopefully I can kick on next week and for the rest of the season.”
Denmark’s Steen Tinning (70) was looking to become the first Dane to win on the European Senior Tour, but would have to settle for a tie for fourth place on 12 under par alongside America’s Mike Cunning, who shot a final round of 71.
Gordon J Brand, who had shared the lead after round one thanks to an opening 67, matched that on Sunday to finish on 11 under par and in a tie for sixth place alongside Spain’s Jose Manuel Carriles (71), while Des Smyth (73), who had led alongside Brand after 18 holes, and on his own after 36, had to settle for a share of eighth alongside the 2011 Champion Andrew Oldcorn (67) at ten under par.