Peter Fowler ended a two year wait for a maiden European Senior Tour title and gave himself an early birthday present with a three stroke victory in the ISPS Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum.
The Australian marks his 52nd birthday on Thursday and will have double cause for celebration after carding a final round 70 to finish on ten under par 209 for the tournament, holding off a determined challenge from Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn.
Fowler initially struggled with a back injury upon joining the Senior Tour in June 2009 but was runner up to Sandy Lyle in the ISPS Handa Senior World Championship presented by Mission Hills China in March, and he continued that form at Stapleford Park in Melton Mowbray, England, posting a second consecutive bogey free round to secure the title.
“I’ve been trying to win again for the last 18 years so this is a great feeling,” said Fowler, who won the 1993 BMW International Open on The European Tour.
“I’ve been trying to beat these guys for years now and I’ve finally got one up on them. I played with Andrew Oldcorn and Michael Harwood for the final two rounds and they are two class players. Both have won the PGA Championship and many other tournaments so it was hard work to stay in front.
“I’ve played solidly for the last six months now with lots of rehab to help my back and it’s been a gradual progress. I had a couple of small wins in Tasmania and South Australia in two round tournaments so I had a bit of practice winning and that really helped this week.
“When I had back surgery two years ago I didn’t know if I would even play Tour golf again so this victory means a lot.”
While last year Bill Longmuir ran away with the inaugural title, producing a birdie blitz to win by seven strokes on 20 under par, windier conditions made the Stapleford Park much tougher this time round and Fowler’s victory was more due to avoiding mistakes than putting red on his card.
Indeed the 6ft 3in Sydney born player only made two bogeys in 54 holes, both of which came during the front nine of his opening round on Friday.
Fowler had started the day with a one stroke lead over Oldcorn and Harwood, his fellow Australian, but pulled clear with birdies on the seventh and 13th holes before critically picking up another shot on the 17th after Oldcorn had clawed his lead back to one shot.
Oldcorn had initially applied some pressure on Fowler with a birdie on the second but back-to-back bogeys on the third and fourth saw the 2001 PGA Champion falter and although he fought back strongly with birdies on the 15th and 16th, a bogey on the last for a 72 meant he had to settle for his second runner-up finish on the Senior Tour.
“The 13th hole was the first time I thought I would do it,” said Fowler. “That gave me a cushion but Andrew hit back with birdies on the next two and I had a Seve-shot from the rough to get it close and holed the putt on 17 to clinch the win. I was only one in front then and in potential bogey-country but it was a great shot.”
Harwood, who shared a house with Fowler close to the Stapleford Park course during the tournament, endured a frustrating final round, signing for a six over par round of 79 to finish in ninth place, ten shots behind his compatriot.
Mark Mouland, the highest placed European in last week’s US Senior PGA Championship on his debut, continued his impressive start to life on the Senior Tour, carding a joint best of the day 69 to finish third on five under par.
Another Welshman, Ian Woosnam, also climbed up the leaderboard with a closing round of 71 to finish tied sixth on one under par, his second consecutive top ten finish after claiming a share of eighth place in China in March as the former World Number One and Masters Champion continues to rediscover his form.
Fellow former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance carded a 75 to finish on seven over par for the tournament, in a share of 32nd position.
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