Giuseppe Cali took his courage in both hands and produced the two best shots of the week at the final hole to became the third Italian winner on the European Seniors Tour by capturing The Mobile Cup at Collingtree Park GC in Northampton.
The 52 year old, who was never close to winning on The European Tour and had 18 top ten finishes in his first two seasons on the Seniors Tour, came to the last tee tied with Scotland’s Martin Gray on seven under par.
Despite having lost a ball and taken a double bogey seven the previous day, Cali hit a thunderous drive and six iron to 20 feet and two putted for a birdie four and a round of 72 for a winning eight under par total of 208. Gray missed his 12 footer for birdie but took second after a closing 70 with American Alan Tapie third on 210 after holing a 45 foot eagle putt at the last.
Cali, who follows in the winning footsteps of countrymen Renato Campagnoli and Alberto Croce on the Seniors Tour, said: “The adrenaline was pumping on the 18th tee but I hit it perfectly this time. Obviously I learned my lesson from yesterday! It’s a great feeling to win at last.
“We are all friends out here on the Seniors Tour and it was a great battle with Martin and Alan. It was close right until the very end. I knew it was important not to his a bad drive on the last hole again and I was also happy with the six iron onto the green. That was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit under pressure.”
Gray’s bold challenge to become the third Scottish winner of The Mobile Cup in its four year history came agonisingly close to success. Gray, who hoped to emulate Bernard Gallacher in 2002 and Bill Longmuir 12 months ago, but could only doff his hat to Cali at the 18th.
He said: “I can’t complain too much, as I wasn’t going to play at the start of the week because my game was in such bad shape. John Chillas, who travels around with me, persuaded me to play and try to figure things out, which I did with some help from my fellow pro, Martin Foster.
“It was a great battle all days with Giuseppe and he deserves all the praise in the world for the way he finished. His drive and second shot to the last were the two best shots he hit in the two rounds I played with him this week. Two fantastic shots under pressure to win a title.”
But by earning a cheque for £13,086 thanks to his closing round of 70, Gray moved to 18th on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit to improve his prospects of retaining his card for 2006. Cali climbed to ninth place behind money leader Luis Carbonetti of Argentina.
David Oakley of the United States won €1750 for claiming the Hardys Super Seniors Award for the best score in the over-60s category with a level par score of 216, with Australian Noel Ratcliffe second on 218 and Maurice Bembridge and John Morgan of England sharing third place on 219.