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Sunday, 10 June 2001
England's Denis Durnian claimed the biggest first prize in European Seniors Tour history when he closed with a level par 69 to capture the inaugural Welsh Seniors Open title at Royal St David's in Harlech.

Durnian, 50, a former European Tour player and a member of four GB & I PGA Cup sides, recorded a three round total of one over par 208 to win his first Seniors Tour title. He finished a single shot ahead of America's Jay Horton and three in front of Scotland's Bernard Gallacher to go home to Manchester with a cheque for £83,330 in his pocket.

The win also brought to an end a winless sequence stretching back to his days on the regular Tour when he finished second four times but was never able to enter the winner's enclosure. For good measure it also lifted him to the top of the European Seniors Tour money list with earnings of 163,372 euro.

That puts him almost 53,000 euro ahead of Horton, medallist at the 1999 European Seniors Tour Qualifying School and more than more than 70,000 euro in front of the third-placed Gallacher.

"I don't think I can begin to explain what this means to me," said Durnian. "Coming down the stretch I couldn't help but remember all the close shaves I had on the regular Tour but I managed to retain my composure and play the golf I wanted.

"It's all so unexpected. I packed my bags on the second morning thinking I might miss the cut after my opening 75 but now I've won more money than I've ever done before."

"Coming into this tournament, the most I had ever won was a cheque for £32,000 I got when I lost to Seve Ballesteros in the Epson Grand Prix down the road at St Pierre.

"I guess the Welsh air must agree with me," he added.

Gallacher, who shared the overnight lead with Northern Ireland's Paul Leonard, dropped five shots to par in a closing round of 74 to lose out on the chance to record his maiden Seniors Tour success but still collected £36,700. Leonard saw his chances of winning for the first time since the 1998 Efteling Trophy in Holland disappear when he slumped to a disastrous quadruple bogey nine on the 517 yard par-5 8th hole and when onto to record a 76 to fall into a share of 6th place with America's John Grace and the leading Welsh competitor, David Vaughan.

Ireland's Joe McDermott, who holed-in-one on the 18th hole in his second round to make the cut with nothing to spare, closed with a one over par 70 to win the £500 Hardys Wine Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading golfer in his 60s.

McDermott, winner of the 1998 AIB Irish Seniors Open, registered a three round aggregate of 216, two shots better than England's Neil Coles.

Royal St David's club professional, John Barnett, a former Captain of the PGA, closed with a disappointing 11 over par 80 for a three round total of 223. He finished alone in 50th place.

Former Staffordshire country player, Steve Wild, the leader after the first round fared little better despite being a member of the host club and a former winner of its prestigious St David's Gold Cross amateur event. He opened with a two under par 67 but then plummeted into a share of 35th place after subsequent rounds of 75 and 77.

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