Las Vegas resident Bob Lendzion of the USA put on a fantastic display of desert golf with a final round 66 to hold off the challenges of South Africa’s John Mashego and England’s David J Russell to claim the second European Seniors title of his career at the Joile Ville Sharm El Sheikh Seniors Open.
The American posted a three round aggregate of 18 under par 198 and took the €29,586 first prize by a single stroke from Mashego and Russell, with the USA’s John Benda a further stroke back.
Mashego’s second place finish was particularly impressive, as he came home in 29 shots on the back nine at the Jolie Ville Golf and Resort and became the first Seniors Tour player to do so since Order of Merit holder Carl Mason, who scored 29 at last season’s AIB Irish Seniors Open.
Lendzion, playing in the final group of the day alongside Benda and overnight leader Russell, made a poor start to his final round by dropping two shots in his opening two holes, but he quickly made amends with birdies at the third and fifth holes which were swiftly followed by and eagle three at the par five sixth.
That got his title challenge back on track as he hoisted himself to within one stroke of Russell at the top of the leaderboard and back into contention for this, the European Seniors Tour’s first ever event in Egypt.
At that stage, the tournament looked like a three horse race between Lendzion, Russell and England’s Bob Cameron, who was making his own move in the day’s penultimate group, having gone to the turn in three under par and closed the gap on Russell.
Just as the focus went to Cameron though, his playing partner Mashego, who had played the front nine in one under 35 went on a the kind of run that most golfers dream about with five straight birdies between the 12th and 16th holes. A par three at the 17th left Mashego needing an eagle three at the 18th to come home in 29, and he duly supplied it by chipping in at the last.
Just as the South African celebrated, Cameron was left commiserating following a double bogey seven at the same hole, which saw him fall back to 14 under par and into sixth place.
As Mashego was signing off his brilliant back nine score of 29 in the recording area, a score that ensured a final round 64 and the clubhouse lead of 17 under par, all eyes were retrained on the final group, where Lendzion, now on 18 under, had established a two stroke lead over Russell and a three shot advantage over Benda.
With such a crucial cushion in his favour, Lendzion took the safe route on the par five last hole, laying up in front of the dangerous water hazard with his second shot and taking the two putts to get down in five and put the seal on an excellent final round 66.
“I am delighted,” said Lendzion, who secures a two year exemption to the Seniors Tour following his victory. “I got off to a bad start today but I think that because I made up for it so quickly I didn’t really have time to be stunned by it. By the time I made eagle on the sixth I knew I was right back in the tournament.
“As the day went on I knew I was in with a chance, and I think the fact that I am from Las Vegas and am used to desert courses like this one really helped me this week in terms of the heat and humidity that a lot of the guys found tough to play in.
“I don’t know what it is about the more exotic places we play in, but I seem to play well in them. I won my last Seniors event – the Beko Classic – in Turkey, finished second at an event in Tunisia and have now won here in Egypt. I have really been quite taken by this country and I can’t wait to get back home and tell people how great it has been.
“Americans are quite apprehensive about travelling to places like Egypt but it is hard to think of anywhere in the world that has more friendly and accommodating people. Everything about this week has been just great.”
England’s Malcolm Gregson took the Hardys Super Seniors top prize of €1750, with Antonio Garrido winning €650 for his second place and the English pair of Maurice Bembridge and John Morgan sharing third place in the competition for those Seniors Tour players over the age of 60.