America's Gary Wintz had a tough decision to make when he turned down a place in the $2 million US PGA Senior Championship at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio, but it proved to be the right choice when he travelled to Belgium and won the concurrent Legends in Golf tournament at Flanders Nippon GG near Hasselt.
Wintz, from Daytona Beach, Florida, chose to miss the season's second Senior major in order to consolidate his place on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit and it turned out to be a wonderful decision when he closed with a three under par 69 to finish one shot ahead of England's Nick Job on 11 under par 205.
In the end, the titanic tussle between the Englishman and his American rival went right down to the wire. Job, the club professional at Richmond GC in London, boarded the final tee with a one shot advantage but flew over the green in two and then failed to get up and down. In contrast, Wintz hit a perfect nine iron to three feet and then calmly rolled in the putt for a winning birdie.
It was a putt that won him a cheque for 25,500 euro (£16,283) and, more importantly, also gave him a two year exemption on the Seniors Tour. For Job, a two-time Seniors Tour winner, the consolation was a cheque for 17,000 euro (£10,855).
"I guess I made the right decision," said a delighted Wintz after signing his card. "When I heard I had got into the (US) PGA my first inclination was to go back to the States but then, after realising that won less than £2000 in my first two starts, I knew I had to stay here and try to consolidate my postion on this Tour.
"Today, I played very solid," he added. "I didn't putt quite as well as I did during the first two rounds but I holed the one that mattered.
"I'm delighted. Now, all of a sudden, I can get into all the tournaments I want."
Another rookie, Dragon Taki from Japan, closed with a fine five under par 67 to share third place with England's David Creamer on seven under par 209.
Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan and Italy's Silvano Locatelli finished tied for fifth on six under par 210. Scotland's Martin Gray, making his debut on the Seniors Tour after finishing second at the recent PGA Senior Club Professionals Championship in Coventry, closed with a four under par 68 to finish alone in seventh place on five under par 211.
As an added bonus, their top ten finishes got both Locatelli and Gray into next week's Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters at La Moye.
The Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize, awarded to the leading competitor aged 60 or over, was shared by England's Neil Coles and Canada's Bill Hardwick.
For the first time ever, the three leading protagonists for this award were paired together for the final round. Coles, Hardwick and England's David Snell, whose combined age is 196, all started out on three under par 141. Coles and Hardwick recorded three over par 75s to finish in a share of 11th place on level par 216 but Snell fell away with a disappointing round of seven over par 79.