England’s Jim Rhodes cruised to a comfortable three-stroke victory in the Nigel Mansell Sunseeker International Classic at Woodbury Park to deny Carl Mason a hat-trick of titles.
Rhodes started the final round two clear of the chasing pack but the expected charge from Mason, who had won the previous two events, never materialised and it was Rhodes who pulled away to claim his third Seniors Tour title and second in just over 12 months.
A final round of 71 for an eight under par total of 208 earned Rhodes the €33,317 (£22,500) first prize while Mason closed with a 71 and had to settle for a share of third with Jamaican Delroy Cambridge behind fellow Englishman Tony Charnley, whose second place represented his best finish since turning 50 on Christmas Day.
Rhodes got off to the perfect start with a birdie on the first to extend his overnight lead and, despite dropping a shot on the next, opened up clear water with birdies at the fourth, sixth and ninth holes in an outward half of 34. He picked up another shot on the tenth before dropping his second shot of the day on the 11th. Another bogey on the 15th offered a sliver of hope for the chasing pack but all doubts were cast aside with a birdie on the 16th. Rhodes even had the luxury of three putting the last two greens and still win by three.
“I did it all on the front nine,” said a delighted Rhodes. “I knew it was going to be a tough finish but fortunately I was well clear by then. It was disappointing to three putt the last two but by then it didn’t really matter.”
Rhodes put his success down to a 40 year old putter, the same putter he has used for every other victory.
“I keep on retiring it but every time it comes back out again I win,” he said. “I think it might stay in the bag for a while now.”
For Mason, he came close to repeating his exploits at the end of 2003 when he won three titles in consecutive appearances but it wasn’t to be. “I needed to make a fast start and put some pressure on but never got going. I didn’t feel I had any rhythm with the putter. But I can’t complain. I’ve had two great wins and was there again so feel confident going into the Senior British Open.”
Charnley was the surprise package in recording his highest finish since turning 50, a result which had the added bonus of earning him an exemption to the Senior British Open, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management, at Royal Aberdeen.
New Zealand's Bob Charles won the Hardys Super Seniors Prize of €1,750 for the second consecutive week, pushing Tommy Horton into second place again by one stroke.