Irishman Paul Leonard surprised everyone, even himself, when he won the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters at a sunny Woburn. A closing 66 around the Duke's Course gave him a tally of 208, eight under par, finishing a shot ahead of England's Nick Job and Scot Bill Longmuir with the rest of the field a stroke further away.
It was a shocked Leonard who said: "This is so unexpected. I haven't been playing well in recent weeks because I've been suffering with a virus so I didn't have high expectations coming here.
"When I teed off today I was just looking for a steady round. I wasn't expecting much until things started to happen.
"But I'm absolutely delighted. This will take a few days to sink in but it is extra special to win on the Seniors Tour."
Leonard was six off the pace at the start of the day but that gap was soon closed as he reeled off four front nine birdies along with a double-bogey six at the seventh following a bad drive, a chip out of the trees and three putts from the edge of the green.
But that was his only blemish which he soon put behind him as four more birdies followed in a back nine of 33.
When Leonard signed for his 66 there were still 12 players on the course so the 58 year old from Cookstown kept himself ready for a possible play-off.
But no one managed to catch him. Job got to seven under after 14 but couldn't prise another birdie, while Longmuir birdied two of the final three holes to get within a shot.
Even Sam Torrance, making his seniors debut in England, came up short. The former Ryder Cup captain birdied three successive holes around the turn to get to seven under but no further.
In fact, a bogey-five at the 15th dropped him back into a tie for fourth place on 210 alongside Jerry Bruner from America, Scotland’s John Chillas, and England’s Ian Mosey.
In the end only fellow Scot, Chillas, who at one stage stood at nine under, was the danger. But he also fell away with three back nine bogeys.
Chillas came to the par-four last needing to hole his approach for an eagle to tie but the ball finished around 15 feet from the flag.
Mosey was another to get to eight under but two bogeys in the final three holes scuppered his hopes. “I’ve been in contention for three of the last six weeks and hopefully things are coming round,” he said.
“But I’m in danger of losing my card and if I can play without that millstone around my neck perhaps things will be different.”
While Leonard took the glory and the first place cheque of over 48,000 Euro, the final round proved a disaster for another Irishman.
Liam Higgins led overnight on eight under after a 66 on Saturday. But the man from Waterville fell away with a closing 76 to finish joint ninth on 212, four behind Leonard, although he did pick up the Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize for the best over 60.
Christy O'Connor Jnr was another on 212 after an incredible round of 69 that contained two eagles, three birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey.
"I had it going at one stage but like Santa Claus I gave the lot away," he said.