Mark Mouland claimed his maiden European Senior Tour victory and his first win in 23 years after he came from four shots behind to snatch the Belas Clube de Campo Senior Open de Portugal title with a four under par closing round of 68.
The Welshman’s steady finish, after following up his opening round of 70 with a 69, was enough to seal a one shot victory on nine under par after as many as five potential winners fell by the wayside in the challenging final stretch at Belas Clube de Campo, outside Lisbon.
In a thrilling finale, Gordon Brand Jnr, Jerry Bruner, Doug Johnson and Gary Wolstenholme all shared the lead as the final groups reached the turn.
But they all struggled on the closing holes as every one of them suffered at least a double bogey on the back nine, with Bruner double bogeying the 14th, Wolstenholme dropping two shots on the 17th, Johnson suffering an eight on the par four 12th while Brand Jnr found the water for a triple bogey at the 18th on the way to a one over par round of 73.
Overnight leader Mike Cunning, who was four shots clear of Mouland going into the final round, also struggled to get going after a bogey on the third hole before three bogeys on the back nine contributed to a one over par final round of 73 that left him in second place.
Mouland, meanwhile, was coolness personified as he came down the stretch, birdieing the 10th, 11th, 13th and 15th in a round which didn’t feature a single blemish.
Indeed, the two time European Tour winner, whose last victory in European golf came at the 1988 KLM Open, only had a single bogey all week as he picked up the winner’s prize fund of €45,000.
“It feels great to win for the first time on the Senior Tour, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Mouland, who joined the tour after his 50th birthday last April.
“I just played really solid all week. I was really calm for some reason, I don’t know why, I was just very focussed.
“Coming down the 18th I knew Gordon (Brand Jnr) was behind me and Mike (Cunning) too, so I just wanted a good solid shot in and just give myself any kind of opportunity for birdie, then post a score and just see what goes on elsewhere.”
Mouland’s back nine score of a four under par 32 was the best all day and he admitted that it was a tough run-in after the wind picked up for the first time all week on the final day.
“I was just safe and solid, there was a tough wind swirling around and anytime it’s like that a par is a good score on any hole,” continued Mouland, whose previous best finish on the Senior Tour was third place at the ISPS Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum in June.
“The 17th and 18th are really tough holes especially with the strong wind so I'm not surprised the other guys had trouble there.”
All signs were pointing to Wolstenholme earlier in the day as he stormed to the top of the field, going five under for the day at one point thanks to birdies on the first, third, eighth, 10th, 11th and 13th, but the double bogey on the penultimate hole left him with a 70, putting paid to the six time Walker Cup player’s hopes as he finished in third position for the fourth time this year.
His playing partner Ian Woosnam also suffered the same fate when he had a five on the 144 metre par three 17th, having threatened the leaders when he went five under through 16 following six birdies before finishing tied fourth with a 71, alongside Bruner, who carded for a round of 74.
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