Barry Lane continued his red-hot run of form as he claimed his second European Senior Tour title of the year at the Casa Serena Open, shooting a steady two under par final round of 69 to clinch a two shot victory in the Czech Republic.
Lane, who is second in the Senior Tour Order of Merit, held off the determined challenge of the rankings leader Peter Fowler, claiming the €60,000 first prize to cut the gap at the top to just €13,502 with five events remaining.
Playing alongside Lane in the final group, Fowler posted a closing 67 to finish runner up on 13 under par – his sixth consecutive top ten finish - while Roger Chapman dropped a shot on the last for a 70 to finish one shot further back in a share of third place with Carl Mason.
But the day belonged to Lane, who captured his third Senior Tour title in two seasons.
The Englishman has been on fire since finishing as the highest European at The Senior Open Championship in July, defending his Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open title on his next Senior Tour appearance before following that up with a second place finish at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters a fortnight ago.
That purple patch continued at Casa Serena Golf in Kutná Hora, near Prague, after he had entered the final round with a three shot lead and he got off to a perfect start with a birdie on the first before another at the third extended his lead over Chapman to four.
While Lane’s bogey on the 11th hole briefly opened the door for Chapman and Fowler, he slammed it shut again at the 14th when he matched the birdies of his two playing partners to avoid a nervy finish.
Three pars at the 15th, 16th and 17th saw him enter the final hole with a three shot lead intact and, while he did miss a two footer for birdie on the last, the five time European Tour winner was delighted to have had that luxury after an excellent display over the three days in which he only made two bogeys in 54 holes.
“I got off to a really nice start and from then on, I really had to focus because you know that someone’s going to make a few birdies,” said the 51 year old.
“I did what I had to do and I missed a short one at the last but I was already thinking of something else at that point! But it was a great field this week and I’m delighted to win.”
Lane made this tournament a late addition to his schedule with the hope of catching Fowler at the top of the Order of Merit and it proved a wise decision as he kept up the pressure on the Australian.
“Peter is playing really well and I took a bit of money out of his Order of Merit lead,” said Lane. “He’s been finishing top five or top 10 every week recently but I got a couple of wins so I’m just slowly catching him and hopefully I can play well next week in the Cannes Mougins Masters.
“The Order of Merit is going to go right down to the wire. I don’t know how many Peter’s going to play in the run-in but at least I’m up there and I’ve got a chance and hopefully by the time I get to the MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius at the end of the year I can maybe win it.”
Fowler was toe-to-toe with Chapman for much of the final round but looked to be the most likely to mount a challenge when he made three consecutive birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. The 52 year old followed that streak up with a bogey, however, and was never able to get closer than within two shots thereafter.
“I didn’t hole enough putts to put any real pressure on Barry but I think I’m making him play pretty well recently,” said the former BMW International Open winner.
“He played like I thought he would play. I thought he would shoot lower but because he wasn’t pushed to hit lower, he played solid and just hit fairways and greens and it was a good win for him.
“My consistency is really good so I’m just chipping away, inch at a time. I suppose it’s a good job that I didn’t let Barry overtake me, so if I keep making him play as well as he’s playing, then I know I’m doing my job right.”
Chapman, who was the first round leader in Casa Serena after an opening round 64, will have to wait for his first Senior Tour victory after a one under par final round of 70.
The 52 year old did pick up shots on the second, eighth and fourteenth but never quite got a run of birdies he was looking for and had a disappointing end to a great week as he three putted the last for bogey to finish tied third.
He was joined by fellow Englishman Mason after the Senior Tour’s record tournament winner added a 67 to his opening 69 and second round 66.
Sam Torrance also threatened Lane’s lead after a six under par front nine 29 left him just four shots back but his challenge for the title was knocked back after he failed to card a single birdie on the way home, instead dropping a shot with a bogey on the 15th on the way to a 66.
That left him tied for fifth place alongside Marc Farry, whose three under par 68 leaves him in fine fettle entering the defence of his Cannes Mougins Masters next week.