Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone, once told he would never play golf again after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, defied the odds to win the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn Country Club.
It was his second win since undergoing a revolutionary new treatment for the condition which affects the central nervous system, following his previous success in Jersey last year and he did it the hard way, overcoming a four stroke deficit to win by one.
A brilliant final round of six under par 66 proved too good for overnight leader Peter Senior of Australia, who closed with a 71.
While putt after putt dropped into the hole for Johnstone, Senior’s broomhandle putter went cold and the gap was gradually closed. A seventh birdie of the day on the 17th finally gave Johnstone the lead and a hole later he tapped in a par putt for a winning ten under par total of 206.
It was a first victory over the magnificent Duke’s Course at Woburn for Johnstone after a number of near misses over the years, notably in the 1992 British Masters to Christy O’Connor Jnr when he lost a play-off.
“I have always had this feeling inside me that one day I would win a tournament round here,” he said. “I have lost a play-off and had a couple of seconds and thirds. From the first time I ever played this course it has been one of my four favourites anywhere in the world and to win around here is just wonderful.
“Pete played really well, but his putter went cold which is unusual for him as he uses that broomhandle like a wand normally. And unfortunately mine was seriously hot today. I just putted the eyes out of it. It is a lovely feeling to be doing that again. It’s a great feeling.”
It was also the perfect send-off for Johnstone who hosts the MS Society Pro-Am at Sunningdale tomorrow to raise funds for a cause so close to his heart.
“Jersey was ultra special as it was my first win after having treatment for MS but I am not too disappointed with this one, in fact I am ecstatic. It is ideal timing with the Pro-Am tomorrow. Everything has just come together this week and it is wonderful.
“I have played well all season and particularly putted well all season. I have gone back to using a bullseye putter and that jab of mine. Once the putter starts working you get the belief and once you have the belief, what can hold you back.”
Senior looked odds on to win in only his second start since turning 50 at the end of July but it wasn’t to be his day.
“I played pretty well, hit 18 greens in regulation and you can’t do any better than that but I just putted probably as bad as I have ever putted,” he said. “I had chances coming in but had nothing on the greens at all. But I played well all week and I’ll look forward to the next one. Tony holed the putts and that is what you have to do in this game.”
Spain’s José Rivero claimed third place while Sam Torrance made a significant move in the Order of Race by overtaking Ian Woosnam into second place after birdieing the last to finish fifth with a round of 69. Torrance trails leader Mark McNulty by just €261 and threw the gauntlet down to third placed Woosnam.
“He’s got to come and catch me now,” said the Scot. “It will be interesting run in to the end of the season. I was just thinking shoot as low as I could. I knew that putt on the last was important. Good job done.
“I just want to put Woosie in his place that’s all,” he joked. “It was great for Woosie to win it in his first year out, I just really want to win it again. I’ll be playing every event now. The next event in the Czech Republic is huge. That’s the one to win. Win that and it could all be over.”