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Friday, 19 March 2010
Japan's Seiji Ebihara claimed one of the richest first prizes in European Seniors Tour golf when he closed with a three under par 66 to win the £500,000 Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David's in Harlech.

The Japanese golfer posted a four under par aggregate of 203 to finish three shots ahead of Ireland's Christy O'Connor Jnr and defending champion, Denis Durnian.

Australia's Ian Stanley and former Open and US Open champion, Tony Jacklin, were one shot further back on level par 207 and Englishman, Nick Job was in sixth place after a 71

English duo, John Morgan and Martin Foster claimed seventh place on two over par 209 but New Zealander, Bob Charles, closed with a disappointing 73 to finish in a tie for ninth place.

Nevertheless, the 1963 Open champion did have the consolation of winning the £950 Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize, awarded to the leading competitor aged 60 or over.

Ebihara won last month's AIB Irish Seniors Open after a tense battle with Durnian and O'Connor Jnr but this time it was much more straightforward. He started the round sharing first place with Charles and Job but quickly moved into a commanding position with a birdie burst around the turn.

The Japanese golfer went out in 34 after birdies at the second, sixth, eighth and ninth and then moved into a commanding five stroke lead after further birdies on the 11th and 12th. He dropped shots on both the 13th and the 16th but sealed his victory with a further birdie at the 427 yard par four 17th hole.

The victory was worth £75,000 and took Ebihara to the top of the Seniors Tour Order of Merit with £112,642.

"I am very happy to win this title," said Ebihara. "It's great to win such a big cheque but even better to play so well on such a challenging course.

"It's certainly the best moment I have had in three seasons on the Seniors Tour."

For much of the day it looked as if Tony Jacklin might finish second on his 58th birthday but in the end he was pipped by O'Connor, who came home in 30, and Durnian, who was just one shot worse over the closing nine. Nevertheless, the Englishman was delighted with his performance and, in particular with his putting.

"That's probably the best I've putted for about six or seven years," said Jacklin. "I missed one five-footer early on but, apart from that, almost everything else went in.

“I would loved to have got a win under my belt but it wasn't to be.

"Seiji must have played great golf because anything under par is a great performance round here."

O'Connor mounted a late charge with five birdies over his last eleven holes but in the end rued some poor putting over his first seven holes.

"I have putted terribly on the front nine for the last two days and that's the difference between winning and coming second," said the Irishman.

"I'm very disappointed. I thought I played well but you can't hope to win if you putt like I did at the start."

Durnian was awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal St David’s club in recognition of last year’s victory in this championship and 12 months later he came mightily close to winning again.

“I finished two shots lower than I did last year so I can hardly complain,” he said. “I’m pleased with the way I played but it wasn’t quite good enough to match Seiji.

“He’s become something of a nemesis to me,” the Englishman added. “He pipped me last month in Ireland and also beat me in the play off at last year’s event in Jersey. Maybe my turn will come next.”

Lawrence Farmer finished as the leading Welsh competitor. He closed with a 74 for a three round aggregate of 213, one shot better than Brian Huggett.

Huggett put together rounds of 73, 70 and 71 to finish in a tie for 23rd place with Scotland's John Chillas, Australia's Terry Gale, Northern Ireland's David Jones and America's David Oakley.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JACKLIN, TonyENG18Par
2MORGAN, JohnENG182
3MOSEY, IanENG186
4GARRIDO, AntonioESP1815
5EBIHARA, SeijiJPN18-4
T6DURNIAN, DenisENG18-1
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