Brazil’s Priscillo Diniz won his first European Seniors Tour title in considerable style when he defeated Australia’s Ian Stanley 3 & 2 in a scintillating final of the Daily Telegraph European Seniors Match Play Championship at Penina GC in Portugal.
Diniz, 51, a rookie Seniors Tour pro from San Paulo, gained first blood when he won the opening hole with a par four but he was immediately pegged back after his Australian opponent birdied from three feet on the 420-yard par-4 second.
Thereafter, though, the Brazilian started to gain control. He won the 6th and 7th with birdies to go to two up, lost the par-3 8th to a Stanley birdie, but then gained a four hole advantage after further birdies at the 11th, 12th and 14th.
Stanley, who dropped just one shot all day, bravely extended the match when he birdied the 331-yard par-4 15th but one hole later he could only stand and watch as his Brazilian rival hit a glorious 5-iron tee shot to 10-feet and then calmly rolled in the putt to win his first title as a Seniors professional.
The £16,000 winner’s cheque moves him up to 13th place on the European Seniors Tour money list with £50,680. His opponent, who won the Coca Cola Kaiser Karl tournament in Germany earlier this season, had the consolation of moving up to fourth place on £70,163, £23,500 behind current No. 1, Australia’s Noel Ratcliffe.
“It’s a great thrill for me to win,” said Diniz. “Earlier in the season I had good chance to win at both The Belfry (at the PGA Seniors Championship) and in Holland (at the Ordina Legends in Golf) but my putter let me down. Today, however, it was a different story. I putted as well as I’ve ever done and that’s what you’ve got to do to beat somebody as solid as Ian.”
“It’s a dream for me,” he added. “At the start of the season my goal was to get into the top-25 in the money list. I didn’t even think about winning but, now I’ve done that, there’s no reason why I can’t win another before I go home in two weeks’ time.
In the morning’s semi-finals Stanley and America’s David Oakley fought out a marvellous encounter that would have been worthy of the final itself.
The Australian got off to a wonderful start when three successive birdies from the third gave him a three hole advantage but just when it seemed he might run away with the match Oakley produced four consecutive birdies of his own from the sixth to go into the back nine with a one hole lead.
Altogether the pair shared 11 birdies before the end came when the American three-putted the last from little more than 15 feet.
It was a disappointing end to what had been an excellent spectacle and the other semi final finished in much the same manner when Australia’s Ross Metherell three putted the 17th to lose by two holes to Diniz.
Metherell had been one up after the opening nine but then lost the 11th, 12th and 13th to go two down. He did secure a birdie the 168-yard par-3 17th but lost his chance to retrieve the match with his error on the penultimate green.
Earlier, Diniz had got to the semi finals with wins over Tommy Horton (3 & 2), Bernard Gallacher (I hole) and David Creamer (4 &2)
Stanley made it to the final day with wins over Nick Job (2 holes), Jeff Van Wagenen (5& 4) and Manuel Ballesteros (3 & 2).