Ireland’s Denis O’Sullivan produced the finest finish of his life when he closed with three consecutive birdies to snatch a one shot victory in the Dan Technology Seniors Tournament of Champions at the Buckinghamshire GC.
O’Sullivan, 52, from Cork, a former winner of both the Irish Amateur and Irish Amateur Strokeplay titles, who did not turn pro until he had turned 50, came to the 16th two shots behind the leaders but then holed three consecutive birdie putts from under 10-feet to finish with a six under par 66 for an 11 under par aggregate of 205, one shot ahead of Australia’s Ross Metherell, and Englishmen, Maurice Bembridge and Nick Job.
His victory, worth £20,000, gave the Irishman his first European Seniors Tour title, increasing his earnings for the season to £57,195 and moving him up to 13th place on the Tour’s Order of Merit with just one counting event left to go.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said O’Sullivan. “All I could think of coming down the last few holes was to relax and try to do what I did when I won my amateur titles, but I have to admit, this was a bit different.
“When I was an amateur I always used to wonder what it would be like to win in a field that included the likes of Tommy Horton, Neil Coles and the other stars of the past and to finally do fills me with a great deal of pride.”
The evergreen Coles was another golfer to prosper on the final afternoon at the Buckinghamshire, winning the £500 First National Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor over the age of 60.
Coles, 65, winner of the Microlease Jersey Open earlier this season, closed with a fine four under par 68 to finish in a tie for 13th place.
It was also a good day for Australia’s Noel Ratcliffe who consolidated his place at the top of the European Seniors Tour money list with a third consecutive 71 that left him in a tie for 18th place on 213
Ratcliffe now goes into this week’s Abu Dhabi Seniors Tour Championship, the last event on this season’s Seniors schedule, having won £93,407. That puts him just £4,500 ahead of second-placed John Grace and over £22,000 in front of third-placed Tommy Horton.
The Englishman, who closed with a level par 72 at the Buckinghamshire, has headed the list for the last four seasons but almost definitely will need to win the £35,000 first prize on offer in Abu Dhabi if he is to extend his reign as Europe’s No. 1.
“This week has been a big disappointment because I like this course a lot but it’s indicative of the luck I seem to have been getting for most of this season,” he said. “Now I know that I’m going to have to win this week in Abu Dhabi if I’m to have any chance of extending my reign as No. 1.”
Horton believes that his golf has not been quite as sharp as it has been in previous seasons but he is also aware that the increased strength in depth on the Seniors Tour is also an important factor in his struggle to retain his No.1 position.
“You only have to look at the money list to see that’s there now an awful lot more good golfers around,” he said. “I won well over £120,000 when I won the money list in 1996, 1997 and 1998 but this year the winner will struggle to get much over £100,000 even though there’s a lot more money to play for. What that tells me is that there are now a lot more good golfers about. It’s great for the Tour but it’s not such good news for the guys who like me are desperate to finish at the top of the list.”