Australian Terry Gale claimed his seventh European Seniors Tour title in the rain at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland – and immediately joked he hoped the showers would drive across Europe and arrive in Manchester in time to save Australia from defeat in the third Ashes Test.
Gale showed the consistency his cricketing countrymen have been lacking with rounds of 67 66 and 66 at Golf Club Bad Ragaz, to give him the €31,500 first prize with an 11 under par three round total of 199. Two shots back in second place were Luis Carbonetti of Argentina and France’s Gery Watine, who closed with respective rounds of 68 and 65 to finish on nine under.
The victory extended Gale’s record of consecutive winning years on the European Seniors Tour to four, which is the longest current streak.
“I have been playing reasonable golf in the last few weeks without capitalising on the greens. I hit the ball well again this week and I took most of the opportunities with the putter, especially from around five foot which is not easy on slowish greens.
“It’s nice to know that when I have got a chance I can still do it. I recently turned 59 and I have struggled a bit this year, so there is always a shadow of doubt.
“Now I can enjoy this win and hopefully send the rain back to England so the Ashes Test can be abandoned!” added Gale, who first won on the Seniors Tour in 1996 at The Belfry PGA Seniors Championship.
The man from Perth had started the final round one shot behind the four overnight leaders, South Africans John Bland and John Mashego, Jerry Bruner of America and fellow Australian Noel Ratcliffe on eight under.
After the perfect conditions of the first two days the players had to contend with rain on Sunday afternoon and scoring was unsurprisingly higher.
But while the leaders struggled, Gale was making excellent progress picking up shots at the par four second, the short par five fourth – a hole he birdied on all three days - and the par four seventh to reach the turn in 33 after bogeying the fifth. He continued his good form with a two at the 11th before dropping only his fourth shot of the tournament at the 301 yard par four 15th.
This was a surprising error, but Gale quickly made amends by birdieing two of the three closing holes for matching halves of 33 – which were enough to give him the title by two strokes after the four overnight leaders all came home with over par rounds.
Bland carded a 71 and ended up in a tie for fourth place with American David Oakley, who moved through the field thanks to a 65, while Bruner’s two over par 72 dropped him back into a share of sixth spot with Italian Giuseppe Cali, the 2003 and 2004 Bad Ragaz Champion Horacio Carbonetti, of Argentina, and the leading British player, England's Kevin Spurgeon.
A stroke further back were Mashego and former Ryder Cup player Gordon J Brand, whose bid to win his debut European Seniors Tour event faded with a level par final round of 70.
Oakley picked up the Hardys Super Senior Prize presented to the leading player aged 60 and over. Ratcliffe, who finished tied 12th, collected the award for second place and in third were New Zealander Bob Charles and England’s Tommy Horton.
Charles, who won The Open in 1963, also bettered his age of 69 for the second time in three rounds, closing with a four under par 66 to add to the 68 he carded on Friday.