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Sunday, 04 August 2002
Japan's Seiji Ebihara set several new European Seniors Tour records when he closed with a six under par 66 to win his third title of the season at the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at the De Vere Carden Park in Cheshire.

The 53 year old from Chiba came into the De Vere event having won both the the AIB Irish Senior Open and Wales Senior Open titles and he became just the fourth man in Seniors Tour history to secure three titles in a single season with an outstanding performance that left the rest of the field trailing in his wake.

Ebihara started his final round having gone 39 holes without dropping a shot and he extended that sequence to an incredible 57 holes with a flawless round that includes six birdies and 12 pars.

It was a performance that gave the Japanese golfer a 10 shot winning margin over America's George Burns and Steve Stull which was enough to beat the Tour's existing biggest winning margin record, set Tommy Horton when he won by nine shots at the 1997 Scottish Seniors Open, and later matched by the same player at the 1988 El Bosque Seniors Open.

His four round aggregate of 21 under par 267 also shaved one shot off the Championship record and set a new Seniors Tour's record for the low 72-hole aggregate as well. Previously, that had been held by Centenary Open champion, Kel Nagle, won recorded an aggregate of 268 while winning the PGA Seniors at Longniddry in 1975.

Ebihara has now accumulated 254,585 euro (£163,201) which means that, with eight tournaments left to go this season, he is also homing in on Ian Stanley’s record prizemoney total, set at 287,025 euro (£177,478) when he headed the Seniors Tour Order of Merit in 2001

"That was the first time I have ever shot 21 under par in a tournament so I have got to be pleased," said the winner after collecting the 52,733 euro (£33,330) winner's cheque. "Now, I would like to go on and win the Order of Merit. That is my goal for the rest of the year."

For most of the closing round, all Ebihara’s nearest challengers had nothing other than second place in mind. In the end, Burns and Stull shared it, albeit after altogether different rounds.

Stull, the winner of this year’s Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic, stormed up for eighth place with a 66 but Burns could do no better than post a one over 73, a round marred by an ugly triple bogey seven on the 430 yard par four 11th.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable all day,” said Burns, who had gone out in the last group alongside Ebihara and England’s Ian Mosey. “But Seiji played some fantastic golf. He’s a great golfer. I don’t think I could have caught him, even if I had played my best.”

England’s Jim Rhodes closed with a fine four under par 68 to claim fourth place on ten under par 278, while Mosey, John Chillas and Guillermo Encina were tied for fifth one shot further back.

Bobby Verwey won the 1500 euro (£950) Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor aged 60 or over. The South African closed with a level par 72 to finish on three under par 285. That left him with a two stroke advantage over England's Tommy Horton and Ireland's Joe McDermott.

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