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Friday, 14 May 2010

Bill Longmuir produced another stunning run of birdies to win the Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum by a commanding seven strokes and capture his eighth European Senior Tour title.

The Scot shot a final round seven under par 66 for a superb wire-to-wire victory to deny Order of Merit leader Boonchu Ruangkit a record equalling fourth consecutive Senior Tour win.

Longmuir had started the final round at Stapleford Park, in Leicestershire, England with a four stroke advantage over Ruankgkit and Senior Tour Qualifying School winner John Harrison and he showed no absolutely signs of nerves in coasting to victory, opening with four straight birdies.

He dropped a shot on the fifth but picked up another birdie on the eighth to reach the turn in four under par 33. The 56 year old then quickly added another birdie on the tenth and when Roger Chapman closed the gap at the top of the leaderboard with an eagle on the 15th hole, Longmuir responded with another birdie of his own before posting his eighth birdie of the day on the 17th to seal a commanding victory on 20 under par 199, with Chapman and Ruangkit in a tie for second.  

Longmuir said the win –his first since the DGM Barbados Open in 2008 – was his best in eight years on the Senior Tour.

“It was just my week,” said Longmuir. “It’s my most comfortable victory yet and I have never played so well.  I had an unbelievable start today. To birdie the first four holes today just took all the pressure off. I was pretty nervous last night and didn’t sleep too well so to do that was fantastic.

“With Boonchu, no lead is big enough - his record speaks for itself. So those birdies put me on the road and then I played steady and putted so well.

“It’s been a long 18 months since I last won so this has really got the juices flowing again.”

Longmuir’s impressive display, which secured him a place in the US Senior PGA Championship in a fortnight, rounded off a remarkable turnaround in fortunes after he carded rounds of 87 and 84 in his last event – the Berenberg Bank Masters.

He went to the United States last week to work on his game with former European Tour professional Michael Wolseley and it more than paid dividends as he stormed to the second lowest 54 hole score to par in Senior Tour history, only bettered by Ruangkit’s 21 under par 195 in this year’s Chang Thailand Senior Masters presented by ISPS.

“I was pretty low after shooting 87 in South Africa,” he admitted. “That was the joint highest score I’ve had as a professional. So to come here and finish 20 under par is pretty amazing.

“Michael knows my game well and knows me well. We worked on my short game but it was more about working on me than being too mechanical. I don’t think I had more than 26 putts in any of my three rounds so it certainly worked!

“I don’t think I could have played any better than I have this week. It went perfectly."

Englishman Chapman signed for a superb 67 to finish on 13 under par alongside Ruangkit, who carded a final round 69. It meant Ruangkit extended his lead at the top of the Order of Merit to €65,143 with Chapman moving into second place and Longmuir jumping 35 places to third courtesy of his €71,381 winner’s cheque.

All time leading Senior Tour money winner Carl Mason was a shot further back in fourth place on 12 under par, with Des Smyth and debutant John Harrison, the Senior Tour Qualifying School winner, tied for fifth.

Argentine Adan Sowa aced the 154 yard par three 14th hole on his way to a four under par 69, while Ryder Cup Captains Sam Torrance (tied 24th) and Ian Woosnam (tied 27th) both carded rounds of 70 to finish on three under par and two under par respectively.  Senior Tour debutant Andrew Oldcorn, the 2001 PGA Championship winner, finished alongside Woosnam following a final round 74.

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