Clark Dennis came from six shots behind to win his fifth Staysure Tour title at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open after a stunning final round of 63, nine under par.
The American made five consecutive birdies in his last six holes to set the target at 15 under par, and with overnight leader José María Olazábal bogeying the 16th hole and unable to move back to the summit, Dennis became the first American to triumph at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open.
It was the 53-year-old’s lowest round of the week and lowest round of the season at WINSTONgolf in Vorbeck, as he won for the first time since he equalled the Tour’s low 54-hole score to win the MCB Tour Championship – Mauritius last December.
“It’s one of the best final rounds of my career,” he said. “I played fantastic today. Most rounds you look back on them and say I could’ve done this or that, but aside from hitting it in the water on the first and making a par there, the round could not have been any better today.
“I figured I was playing for second place. I told my wife that I probably needed to birdie the last six holes to have a chance and I almost did it. I had a birdie putt on 18 which went close, but those type of runs are never expected, they just happen.”
Dennis began his final round with three birdies in his opening five holes, making the turn at three under par. Olazábal, who was hoping to win his first Staysure Tour title, was six shots ahead of him after nine holes but the following eight holes saw the American reel in the Spaniard before passing him.
A gain on the par three 11th got the ball rolling on the back nine before he made five successive birdies from the 13th hole to wipe out Olazábal’s lead, narrowly missing out on a birdie at the last, but setting the target in the clubhouse at 15 under par.
With Olazábal dropping a shot on the par four 16th and unable to birdie the final two holes, Dennis was crowned the WINSTONgolf Senior Open Champion.
“Olazábal is a gentleman,” he said. “I’ve played with him before and he’s an absolute gentleman. I kind of felt bad, keeping him from winning his first Staysure Tour, title but I had to do what I did.
“Olazábal and Langer are the best of all time. They’re both two-time Masters Champions. They are incredible players. To be able to compete against them is great but to beat them is even better because you know you have to play your best golf to beat those guys because they’re fantastic players.”
The Spaniard finished a stroke behind Dennis for his best finish on the Staysure Tour, with James Kingston of South Africa two further shots back in third place after his final round of 66, six under par.
Home favourite Bernhard Langer finished at 11 under par, chipping in for birdie on the last, to join England’s Jamie Spence in a share of fourth place.
Dennis and his fellow competitors will now travel to Royal Lytham & St. Annes for the final Senior Major Championship of the season, The Senior Open Presented by Rolex, from July 25-28.