America's Hank Woodrome won for the first time on the European Seniors Tour when he closed with a four under 68 and then defeated Northern Ireland's Eddie Polland on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off at the Wallonia Open at Pierpont Golf Club in Belgium.
The Californian came into the event searching for a top-10 finish that would guarantee him a place in the next Seniors Tour tournament but ended up winning after finishing the regulation 54-holes on six under par 210 and then holing out for a par on the first extra hole. He won a first prize of £13,858 and also earns a precious two-year exemption enabling him to play in whichever Seniors Tour events he chooses.
Woodrome ranking was such that he arrived in Belgium having played in only two of the events on this year's Seniors Tour. However this lack of competitive golf did not stop him closing with a fine 68 that included an eagle on the 505 yard par five 11th hole and birdies on the 14th and 16th.
The American missed an eight foot birdie putt to win the tournament outright on the 18th hole but he returned 20 minutes later, hit a glorious six iron into ten feet and then calmly two-putted after watching Polland take three from the front edge of the green.
"I guess this means I will get into a few more tournaments," said the emotional American after acknowledging the cheers of the crowd.
"It will take a while to sink in but what it does mean is that I can now start to plan my life sensibly again. I won't have to go from tournament to tournament hoping to get a start. I will no longer be the first reserve. I can play where I want and when I want."
Polland's bid to win for the first time since 1999 came up just short despite a fine closing round of 70 that included three birdies and one bogey. He had a chance to collect his third Seniors Tour title when he hit his second shot into 12 feet on the 72nd hole but he he missed that one and also a four-footer that would have extended the play-off into a second extra hole.
The best rounds of the day came from England's Bob Larratt and Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge who both stormed up the leaderboard after carding five under par 67s.
Larratt started the final round in 28th place in the field but moved up to a share of third place alongside Australia's Terry Gale, America's David Oakley and Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan on five under par 211.
The club professional at Kibworth Golf Club, Leicestershire, birdied the 492 yard par five second and the 82 yard par three fourth before three-putting the 427 yard par four fifth to drop his only shot of the day. He bounced back with another birdie at the 422 yard par four eighth before romping home in 33 with further birdies at the tenth, 11th and 17th.
"I'm chuffed to bits," said Larratt, who earned a place on the Seniors Tour at last season's Qualifying School in Portugal. "I played really well. I have now had two top-ten finishes in my first four starts so I have got to be pleased with that."
Cambridge's 67 saw him jump up 24 places into a share of seventh place alongside Horacio Carbonetti, Noel Ratcliffe and Steve Stull on four under par 212.
The big-hitting Jamaican birdied the 301 yard par four first and the 554 yard par four sixth to go out in 34. He dropped a shot at the 417 yard par four tenth but then bounced back with birdies on the 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th.
"It was a nice round but it could have been a little bit better," admitted the Jamaican who won three times on last season's Seniors Tour. " I missed a great chance for a birdie on the 16th and then didn't get up and down from just off the green on the par five 17th."
"I knew as soon as I finished those two putts could cost me dear."
England's David Creamer won the 1,500 euro Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize award for the fourth time in five starts this season. The former English table tennis international closed with a level par 72 to finish in a share of 11th place with Bob Cameron, Giuseppe Cali and Robbie Stewart on three under par 213.