England’s Peter Mitchell denied Ian Woosnam a popular home victory by finishing two shots clear of the Welshman to clinch his maiden European Seniors Tour title and the biggest pay cheque of his career at the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open.
Playing in only his second Seniors Tour event after making his debut in Jersey last week, Mitchell carded a one under par final round of 71 to finish with a three under par total of 213, with Woosnam on 215.
Mitchell’s victory came 10 years after the last of his three wins on The European Tour, in the 1998 Portuguese Open, and the £75,000 first prize eclipsed the £58,330 he picked up at Le Meridien Penina a decade ago.
The 50 year old’s win was all the more remarkable given that he has barely played the game for five years, instead dedicating his time to running his own golf academy in Kent.
Prior to Jersey, Mitchell’s last competitive tournament was back in 2003 but he showed few signs of ring rust out in the glorious sunshine at Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Course.
After a nervy start with two bogeys inside the first five holes, Mitchell steadied himself and picked up shots on the seventh, ninth and 14th, while Woosnam crucially bogeyed the 16th to give the Englishman a two stroke advantage.
Mitchell then held his composure to par the final two holes in front of the packed Welsh support there to cheer on Woosnam, and seal the biggest pay day of his 34 year professional career.
“I’ve not even looked at the prize money to be honest,” he said. “For me just to win was special. It was great to play with Woosie. He was a real gentleman to play golf with, as he always is. He didn’t take his chances today and I got a few breaks and came through.
“I played well in Jersey and it gave me a boost coming here. I think the age of 50 came round too quickly for my liking but it is here and it seems to be going all right so far.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of this week. It’s still not quite sunk in that I’ve won. I think it probably will over the next few days when I’m back at home.
“t was a fantastic golf course to play. It was in great condition and you had to play well around here.”
Having secured his first title, Mitchell said he was looking forward to playing in more events on the Seniors Tour in 2008 before having a charge at the Order of Merit next year.
“I’m going to play in the Senior Open Championship and a few other tournaments,” he said. “I’ve still got some stuff to sort out and I’m still recovering from a torn ligament in my right foot so I might rest that a bit and pick and choose a few tournaments and then next year I’ll play a full season.”
Woosnam, who was chasing back to back wins after his maiden victory in the Parkridge Polish Seniors Championship, was unable to give the packed home support the win they had craved but his second place means he is now just £10,000 behind leader Bernhard Langer in the Seniors Tour Order of Merit.
“I missed a lot of putts today and that was the difference really,” said the 2006 Ryder Cup winning Captain. “I hit a great shot on 17 but couldn’t convert the putt. I went for the green on the 18th but again I couldn’t hole the putt.
“It’s nice to be contending all the time and you’ve just got to be patient. I thought I played decent during the week and if I can keep doing that I will win again soon.”
American Jerry Bruner surged up the leaderboard to finish in third place on two over par after a stunning four under par round of 68, while Scotland’s Sandy Lyle finished in tied 11th place on five over par after following his opening round 69 with back to back rounds of 76.