Peter Fowler claimed his first European Senior Tour victory for more than two years with a remarkable turnaround in the French Riviera Masters, coming from four shots back at the start of the final round to win by three strokes at Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort.
The Australian took little time in overturning Andrew Oldcorn’s overnight advantage, catching the Scot by the sixth hole after Oldcorn started with three bogeys in his opening five holes.
Fowler began with three pars and a birdie on the fourth, before both players picked up a shot the sixth hole to share the lead on seven under par.
However, contrasting fortunes were ahead for the pair as Fowler posted back-to-back birdies on the next two holes, while Oldcorn ran into trouble on the eighth, carding a double bogey six after first finding the fairway bunker and then obstruction behind a tree.
That meant an eight shot swing in just eight holes and thereafter Fowler exerted his control over the tournament, birdieing the tenth and 11th holes to give himself breathing space at the top of the leaderboard.
He adopted a more cautious approach on the back nine in order to protect his advantage, carding seven consecutive pars on the way in for a six under par round of 66 and a winning total of 11 under par 205.
“Wins aren’t easy to come by so it is always special to get one,” said the 54 year old, who has battled back and knee problems over the past four seasons. “I’ve worked hard for this so it feels good.
“It is hard to win because there are so many good players on this Tour, like Andrew. I thought he was going to win today as it is hard to pull back a four stroke lead, so I just tried to play my own game.
“Fortunately I got a good run on the front nine and then Andy struggled so I managed to get ahead. It’s never a foregone conclusion – I’ve only had three wins on this Tour, but I’ve worked so hard and it’s nice to take this chance.”
Fowler’s last Senior Tour triumph came at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in 2011, the year he topped the Order of Merit courtesy of two victories and 11 other top ten finishes.
After jumping from 11th to second on this year’s money list, the 54 year old now has a realistic chance of repeating that success and reclaiming the John Jacobs Trophy he won two years ago.
The first prize of €60,000 means he is now just €11,929 behind Englishman Paul Wesselingh on the Order of Merit with four events remaining.
“Paul has been playing very well all year and very consistently, so it would take some doing to catch him, but I’m really happy that I’ve got this win and moved up close to him,” he said.
To his credit, Oldcorn battled back from his difficult start, carding birdies on the ninth, 11th and 17th holes to sign for a one over par 73.
That was good enough for a share of second position – his second joint runner up finish in three weeks after closing 61 in the WINSTONgolf Senior Open - alongside Spaniard Santiago Luna, winner of the SSE Scottish Senior Open last month, who posted a superb 66.
For Oldcorn, it was further frustration at the hands of Fowler, having finished runner up to him for all three of the Australian’s Senior Tour wins. He has also been second seven times now overall on the Senior Tour.
“I’m sick of the sight of Peter,” joked Oldcorn. “That’s all three times now that he has won and I’ve finished second. I shot myself in foot early on. I was too tentative at the beginning, exactly what I thought I wouldn’t be, and I made a mistake the the very first hole.
“It was hard to recover from that, as well as Peter played. There was an eight shot swing on the front nine. I dug in there and kept going but I struggled with my swing. I’m hugely disappointed. Peter played well and he never missed a putt all day, so all credit to him.”
Japan’s Katsuyoshi Tomori fired a seven under par 65 to finish fourth on seven under par, while former World Number One and Masters Champion Ian Woosnam closed with a 67 to finish in a share of fifth position with England’s Philip Golding (70) and New Zealand’s Greg Turner (69) on six under par.