Anders Forsbrand claimed an historic wire-to-wire victory in the SSE Scottish Open, holding off a stunning charge from Philip Golding to become the first Swede to win on the European Senior Tour.
The 51 year old, who began the day with a three stroke cushion, always had a stranglehold on the tournament at Fairmont St Andrews, but Englishman Golding’s second consecutive eight under par round of 64 put Forsbrand under pressure in the closing stages.
However, the ice-cool Scandinavian held firm and a final round of 67 gave him a winning total of 17 under par 199, one shot clear of Golding, who finished runner up in just his second Senior Tour event, and three ahead of David J Russell.
It was Forsbrand’s first victory in 17 years, having claimed the last of his six European Tour titles in the 1995 German Masters, and represents the start of a new chapter for Swedish golf.
Forsbrand was one of the Swedish pioneers of on The European Tour in the 1980s and 1990s, but after seven years away from the game spent coaching the Austrian national side, he had a relatively slow start to his Senior Tour career last year, ending the 2011 season in 55th position on the Order of Merit.
However he made a brighter start to the new campaign, and finished joint runner up in the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship in June, before claiming this maiden title in the 20th anniversary edition of the SSE Scottish Senior Open.
“It’s fantastic to be the first Swede to win on the Senior Tour,” said Forsbrand, who won the 1991 Dunhill Cup at St Andrews’ Old Course with Per-Ulrik Johansson and Mats Lanner. “It’s wonderful.
“This year I saw some really good signs. I’ve played really good but the putter has not been co-operating, but this week I rolled a few putts. Yesterday was great and today I holed some good ones.
“You need to hole putts to win”
He added: “This win is just as good as the first one I had as a kid in Switzerland (in 1987). It is the same feeling, but it is a new start.”
“I’ve never won in Britain individually either, so it is nice.”
Leading by three from Englishman David J Russell and four from Golding at the start of the final round, Forsbrand saw his margin reduced by one when both his rivals birdied the first and Golding picked up another on the second.
But Forsbrand hit back immediately, starting a hat-trick of birdies with a 20ft putt on the third hole.
He then picked up further shots on the eighth and ninth before the turn, and then the 13th before three putting the 16th for his only bogey of the day.
That left the door slightly open for Golding, who followed his superb start with birdies on the fourth, fifth, tenth, 13th and 15th holes.
Taking a two-shot advantage onto the last hole, Forsbrand’s approach shot finished just off the green and he pitched to eight feet, before watching Golding hole a five footer for birdie.
Forsbrand’s own birdie putt rolled past the hole, but he tapped in for a one shot victory and the first prize of €47,457, which moves him into fourth on the Senior Tour Order of Merit past Bernhard Langer, who he served under as a Vice-Captain in The 2004 Ryder Cup.
“It was incredible golf from Phil and from DJ, so it was tough but I came through,” he said. “They both started great and then I hit some good shots and holed some putts, which eased it off a bit.
“But then Phil got closer and closer. He played fantastic. When you are leading by three shots it is not a lot – it’s a double and a birdie.
“I’ve not won for 17 years so it’s hard. You remember what it is like, but you try to stay in the now and not jump ahead. I did a pretty good job of that. The three-putt on 16 hurt a little bit, then I hit a good putt which didn’t go in on 17. But I played great and did a good job of doing the right things at the right time.”
Golding, who made his debut in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex last month, was bidding to become the fourth youngest winner on the Senior Tour, but despite a remarkable final 36 holes, he came up just short, finishing on 16 under par 200.
“When you shoot two 64s on the weekend and don’t win – that doesn’t happen very often,” said the
former Open de France champion.
“But Anders played lovely and didn’t make any mistakes apart from the bogey on 16 and he made some big putts – particularly the one on the eighth.
“That was crucial. I had started birdie, birdie and got within a couple of shots of him, but he had a run of three birdies and then holed a very long one on eight.
“I’m delighted with the way I played though, and it has been a good start to life on the Senior Tour so far.”
Russell closed with a five under par 67 to finish on 14 under par 202 and claim his 14th top three finish on the Senior Tour.
Former World Number One and Masters Champion Ian Woosnam recorded his second consecutive top ten finish on Scottish soil, following his tied tenth place in last month’s Senior Open Championship with a share of fourth position alongside Englishman George Ryall (69), South African Chris Williams (68) and St Andrews-born Gordon Manson of Austria (70).
Woosnam closed with a five under par 67 to boost his confidence ahead of his bid for a home victory in next week’s Speedy Services Wales Senior Open.
Defending champion Barry Lane, who was chasing a hat-trick of titles, was a shot further backing tied eighth position on eight under par following a final round of 69.
Sam Torrance, who designed the course at Fairmont St Andrews, also carded a 69 to finish as the leading Scot in a share of 14th position.
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