David Frost survived a major final round scare to win the MCB Tour Championship by one stroke from Peter Fowler and Barry Lane, sealing his second victory at Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius on a dramatic final day of the 2012 European Senior Tour season.
The South African began the final round with a four shot lead after opening rounds of 64 and 67, but had to birdie the final hole to cling on for victory, after a nervous stretch around the turn gave his rivals hope.
A triple bogey on the sixth hole and a double bogey on the 12th had opened the door for 2011 Order of Merit winner Fowler, who had set the clubhouse target of ten under par 206 after closing with a 68.
That was matched by Lane who chipped in from the fringe on the last hole for an eagle and a final round 70, but after a gutsy four iron approach over the water landed just on the green, Frost pushed his own eagle attempt two feet past the pin before tapping in for a decisive closing birdie.
That mean he finished one shot clear of Australian Fowler and Englishman Lane on 11 under par 205, following a two over par final round of 74.
“That was a bit closer than I was hoping for,” he admitted. “It just shows you in this game, you have never won.
“The human factor came into play today. I hit one bad drive and then after that you feel the emotions. I’d been telling everyone it was a three day golf tournament, not two.
“I played OK in spurts today but I let the guys back into the tournament. Luckily I played a great shot on the last hole and it was a relief to get the win in the end.”
Frost had started the day confidently enough, extending his lead at one point to six shots with birdies on the first and second holes, but he ran into trouble on the 522 yard par five sixth hole when he found the trees with his drive, and then did the same again after going back to the tee.
With another bad lie, he could only hack out and eventually racked up a triple bogey eighth but managed to steady himself with a run of three pars and a birdie on the tenth.
However he dropped another shot on the 11th before another loose drive on the 12th hole resulted in a double bogey, as Fowler, who had started the day seven shots behind Frost, drew level for the first time when he birdied the 15th hole, after also previously picking up shots on the sixth, tenth and 13th holes.
Frost then produced a miraculous, curling nine iron shot from the trees on the 15th hole to set up a decisive birdie, before Fowler struck back with a birdie of his own on the 17th.
Fowler then missed another birdie chance on the last before Frost’s vital eagle secured the win for the 53 year old, whose only other Senior Tour title was the former MCB Open over the Legend Course two years ago when he defeated Roger Chapman in a play-off. Frost also finished runner up to Tom Lehman in last year’s MCB Tour Championship, but it was to be his turn again this time.
“Winning never gets old,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to win twice on the US Champions Tour this season and it is great to add this title to it.
“It was an exciting day – not the way I would have liked it to have gone, obviously - but an exciting day for the tournament. There was a bit of nerve in there from the spectators as well as me.
“I like this golf course though. I can read the greens well and I can’t wait to get back here next year and try to forget about the one I’ve just played!”
Lane’s third runner-up finish of the season, to sit alongside his victory in the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, meant he ended the year second position on the Senior Tour Order of Merit, just as he did in 2011.
“David let us in really with a triple and a double, but I missed an awful lot of putts today,” said the former Ryder Cup player. “I was always battling but my double bogey on the eighth was a shame but then I chipped in on the last.
“That’s the game though and I tried my best. It’s great to finish second here, second in the Order of Merit, and it’s been another great year.”
Fowler, who last year sealed the John Jacobs Trophy in Mauritius after holding off Lane’s challenge in the Order of Merit, was disappointed not to have birdied the last, but he did preserve fourth place on the Order of Merit, which had been under threat from Englishman Paul Wesselingh.
“It’s been a long season and I was glad I could keep going,” he said. “Frosty was way out in front and I just had a bit too much to do. He had a few hiccups today which gave us a chance, but I should have birdied the last. I never thought about winning at all as he was so far clear but it’s been another good year though.”
The man who succeeds him as the Order of Merit winner, Double Senior Major Champion Roger Chapman, signed off his superb 2012 season with a two over par 74 to finish in tied 15th position on three under par.
Chapman, winner of the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and the US Senior Open, was presented with the John Jacobs Trophy, becoming the first Englishman to win it since Carl Mason in 2007.
Frenchman Marc Farry, who is attached to Constance Belle Mare Plage and who helped attract the Senior Tour to the island, closed with a 69 to finish in tied sixth position on six under par 210, his best performance in the tournament.
Wesselingh, the 2012 Rookie of the Year, had briefly threatened the top of the leaderboard, but a closing 72 meant he shared sixth position with Farry and fellow Englishman Kevin Spurgeon (70), to end the year in fifth place on the Order of Merit.