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Friday, 19 March 2010

As the Tour de France was nearing the completion of its first Alpine stage, the European Seniors Tour crowned its own king of the mountains as Juan Quiros captured the Open de France Senior Divonne golf title from England’s Tony Allen in nearby Divonne les Baines on Saturday.

Instead of pulling on the yellow jersey Quiros left Golf du Domaine Divonne, a par 72 championship course that lies in the imposing shadow of Mont Blanc, with a cheque for €48,750 after a one stroke victory.

The Spanish former European Tour player, whose only previous Seniors title came across the border at Bad Ragaz in the Swiss Alps last year, closed in two under par 70 for a 54 hole aggregate of eight under par 208, while a charging Allen finished with four threes for a 68 to snatch his second runner-up spot of the season.

Former PGA Championship winner Tony Johnstone, one of three overnight leaders, closed in one over par 73 for a share of third place. Joining him on six under par 210 were Englishmen Gordon J Brand and Bob Cameron, winner of this title in 2004, Japan’s Seiji Ebihara and Spain’s Emilio Rodriguez.

The victory moved Quiros to the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit with €171,009, while Allen moved up to ninth which all but secures a full card for next year.

Playing alongside friend and compatriot Rodriguez, Quiros got off to poor start with his second double-bogey six of the week at the fourth hole and a bogey at the next.

At this stage he was well out of contention, but a birdie-eagle blitz approaching the turn thrust his name back up the leaderboard.

He holed a metre-long birdie putt at the par five seventh and at the eighth hit a wonderful seven iron to a foot and made eagle three, to complete the outward half in level par 37.

The moment another birdie putt dropped at the 12th, having knocked a four iron to six feet of the pin, Quiros scented victory.

“I looked up at the leaderboard and thought: ‘I have a good chance here’. The 17th is a very easy hole for me and I made birdie again,” commented the Spaniard.

This gave Quiros a one stroke lead over playing partner Rodriguez – and Allen, who was already in the clubhouse - as the pair stood on the tee of the long par three 18th.

Rodriguez hit first and missed the green right, and Quiros then missed on the other side. Rodriguez failed to get up and down while Quiros played a wonderful chip to two feet that set up a crucial par. “That chip was the key shot for me today, as the 18th is not an easy hole,” remarked the winner.

Asked to explain his recent success at mountain venues and Quiros, a keen skier, pointed to a lucky charm: “Emilio’s daughter came to Bad Ragaz and I won there. I was very happy to see her again this week. She is my lucky charm, although I said to her that today I would have preferred her father had won.”

Allen was delighted with his second place, which followed his play-off defeat at the Sharp Italian Seniors Open in May. “I came here looking for a top ten so I could get into the Wentworth Senior Masters. This result not only does that but should also ensure my place in the top 30 on the Order of Merit.

"I have spent so long fighting to get tournament starts, but this year everything has fallen into place and finishing in the top 30 at the end of the year would make a huge difference to my life,” commented the Maxstoke Park Golf Club professional.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1QUIROS, JuanESP18-8
2ALLEN, TonyENG18-7
T3EBIHARA, SeijiJPN18-6
T3RODRIGUEZ, EmilioESP18-6
T3BRAND, Gordon JENG18-6
T3CAMERON, BobENG18-6
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