Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge won his third title of the 2002 European Seniors Tour season when he defeated Northern Ireland's Eddie Polland by one hole in an engrossing final at The Daily Telegraph/Sodexho European Seniors Match Play Championship at the new Famingos GC in southern Spain.
Cambridge's win was worth £16,000 and ended Polland's brave bid to become the first golfer in history to win the Match Play title on both the European Tour and the European Seniors Tour.
Polland won the 1975 Sun Alliance PGA Match Play Championship at Lindrick but on this occasion he could not repeat that feat despite twice coming back from what looked like a hopeless situation.
Polland went behind for the first time when he lost the 536 yard par five second hole to a birdie. He went two down when he three-putted from 25 feet on the par five sixth but then mounted the first of two brave charges by winning both the 150 yard par three seventh and the 323 yard par four eighth.
The Northern Irelander lost the momentum again when he lost the 429 yard par four ninth, the 209 yard par three 11th and the 403 yard par four 12th but once again clawed his way back to all square when he birdied three successive holes from the 14th.
That set up a grand stand finish for the large and enthusiastic crowd. The duo halved the 17th in par four but Polland then drove into a divot down the middle of the last fairway and from there hit it through the green and into a hazard. Meanwhile Cambridge hit his second into ten feet and then stood back and watched as Polland left his third shot in the hazard and then conceded the match.
"It was a terrible way to finish," said the disappointed Irishman. "I did well to come back from three down with five to play but you can't legislate for what happened on the 18th.
"The ball was buried in a deep divot. I could hardly get at it. I hit down on it as hard as I could but it came out low and scuttled through the green. I admit I feel a bit sick at the moment."
"I feel very sorry for Eddie but that's the way it goes sometimes," said the new champion. "He came back strong with those three birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th but overall I think I just about deserved to win.
"It has been an incredible season," he added. "I never thought for a second I'd win three times. I'm a very lucky man."
Earlier in the day both Cambridge and Polland had to work extremely hard to battle through the semi-finals.
Cambridge went one in front when Nick Job dropped a shot at the 209 yard par three eleventh and then doubled his advantage when he birdied the 350 yard par four 14th. The Englishman pulled one back when he drove the green on the downhill 354 yard par four 16th but his Jamaican rival closed out the match with a winning birdie on the 361 yard par four 17th.
"I just didn't hole enough putts. It's as simple as that," said Job. "I might have put him under a bit of pressure if I holed a few more of my chances but I just couldn't get the ball to drop.
"It's a shame but I have had a very good week."
Polland's semi-final against Denis O'Sullivan ended in high drama when O'Sullivan three-putted from seven feet on the last to hand the game to the Northern Irelander.
Polland was two up after three holes but was pegged back to all square by the tenth. The two golfers halved all of the next seven holes before arriving on the 18th where O'Sullivan came a cropper after charging his first putt three feet past the hole and then missing the return.
"It's not something I'm very proud of but it happens I'm afraid," said O'Sullivan. "The bottom line was that I didn't play as well as a should have done. I don't know what it was but I struggled with my concentration all day. I just didn't feel as focussed as normal and that's probably what cost me the match."