Peter Senior triumphs at Australian Open

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 22:49 09/12/2012
Peter Senior
Getty Images
NO BARRIER: Peter Senior became the oldest winner of the Australian Open at 53.

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Peter Senior cherished his sweetest triumph after holding his nerve in "near impossible" conditions to become golf's oldest Australian Open champion.

The 53-year-old overcame galeforce winds and a three-hour delay at the windswept Lakes course in Sydney to post a dogged final-round even-par 72 to win the Stonehaven Cup by a shot from a valiant Brendan Jones (71).

With his teenage son Mitchell carrying his bag, Senior tallied four-under for the tournament after rounds of 75-68-69-72 to claim his 30th professional win - and first since the 2010 Australian PGA Championship at Coolum.

"This is probably the most special," Senior said.

"We've been closer over in America. We've lost three playoffs, come pretty close in a few other events and just once I would have liked to have said: 'Mitch, well done mate, we've done it.'"

The Queenslander's second Open victory on a drama-charged afternoon comes after his first as a 30-year-old at back in 1989.

"I'm getting a bit long in the tooth now. I really thought these days were over," Senior said.

"God, golf is such a funny game. One minute you think you're down, the next minute you're up.

"I didn't play particularly well this week, but I got it up and down out of some places all week and today was no exception."
The previous oldest Open winner was the legendary Peter Thomson at 43 at Kooyonga in 1972.

As virtually the entire field went backwards in winds gusting up to 80kph, Senior dropped just two shots all day - at the fifth and seventh holes - but birdies on the par-4 10th and 12th holes proved priceless.

While Senior took the spoils, Jones was heroic in almost snatching victory with a spectacular finish.

Contesting his first national championship in four years, the Japan-based Jones nearly overcame a 12-shot deficit early in his round after going five under through his last 13 holes, including a brilliant eagle on the par-5 17th.

But he was gallant in defeat. "Peter Senior, he's a champion," Jones said.

Cameron Percy (73) finished outright third at two under, one ahead of Kim Felton (72), rookie Kieran Pratt (75) and English world No.4 Justin Rose (76).

Third-round leader John Senden - who also led into Sunday last year only to come up short - had a shocker, capitulating with a final-round 82 to be joint 18th.

The tournament finished in near darkness but while some players argued about the suspension of play, Open boss

Trevor Herden said officials had no alternative but to halt proceedings just before noon when the fierce winds knocked down a television tower near the 18th green.

The southerly change also caused scoreboards to topple over, balls to move on the fairways and greens and sand to be blown from bunkers and into the galleries.

Herden said player and spectator safety was paramount.

"We had to suspend play," he said.

"Obviously there's nothing we can do to protect anybody other than to get them out of danger.

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"We have an obligation to the public and the players and then there's the golf course, which at that point became unplayable.

"We were managing very, very well through the 60km (wind) zone but once we got to 80, we all know that no golf course can defend 80-kilometre winds."

Herden agreed conditions were "brutal", but defending champion Greg Chalmers claimed they were even tougher than that.

"Borderline impossible at certain points," Chalmers said after closing with a 77 to tie 23rd.

"It was just one of the most difficult days that I've played in a long time." 

 

- AAP

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