Ireland's Christy O'Connor Jnr became just the second man history to successfully defend the Senior British Open title when he overcame a one shot overnight deficit to defeat South Africa's John Bland at this year's championship at Newcastle Co. Down.
O'Connor, 51, from Galway, produced a closing three-under par 68 for a seven-under par aggregate of 275 to finish two shots ahead of Bland, who has not won this prestigious title, but has now finished second three times in the last four years.
Bland, who recorded a level par 71 in his closing round finished a further two shots in front of America's Hubert Green, making his debut in the championship, and England's John Morgan was alone in fourth place after a fine closing 69.
"Bland is a very tough gentleman so it's great to beat him here," said O'Connor. "It is very special to win on the best course in the world and it's even better to do it in front of all these fantastic fans."
"I seem to like coming second in this championship," countered Bland. "When we got to 14 and 15 it got to be a match play situation between the two of us but I couldn't quite do enough to catch him. All credit to him because he played some great golf."
Fifth place went to the evergreen Bob Charles, 66, the Senior British Open champion in 1989 and 1993, who closed with a flawless 67, a round that tied the lowest score of the week and was the only one in the whole championship that did not to contain a single bogey.
Charles won £15,600 for that fifth place finish plus another £3,000 for winning the Fred Daly First National Super Senior prize, awarded to the leading competitor over 60. In that category the left-handed New Zealander, who won The Open at Royal Lytham &
St Annes in 1963, was five shots ahead of his nearest challenger, Neil Coles, 65, winner of this season's Microlease Jersey Seniors Open, who finished in 10th place alongside England's Malcolm Gregson.
Tommy Horton, a man who has done virtually all there is to do in European senior golf, save win the Senior British Open, the title he craves most, received some consolation when a share of 6th place, worth #12,500, took him through the #1 million career earnings barrier on the European and European Seniors Tours.
Earlier, David Jones, who was born in Newcastle Co. Down, but who now lives in Bangor, also gave the 5,490 final day crowd something to shout about when he closed with a fine five under par 67 that could have been even better had he not taken six down the last after driving into a bunker
Jones, a regular on the European Seniors circuit and also a renowned golf course architect, finished in a tie for 12th place, which was a good deal better that he could have wished for when he ended his second round with a birdie, eagle, birdie run that helped him to make the cut with just one shot to spare.
The bronze medal, awarded to the leading amateur competitor who completes all 72 holes went to American, Ken Forster, who compiled rounds of 77, 72, 70 and 75 for a 10-over par total of 294, one shot better than compatriot, Mark Gammell.
Roy Smethurst, the British Senior Amateur champion, from Crewe, finished on 298.Final Results