53-year-old Peter Senior proved once again that age is no barrier to success, capturing the Emirates Australian Open amidst fading light and extreme conditions.
With an even-par 72 in the windy and wild final round at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, Senior became the oldest golfer to lift the Stonehaven Cup, surpassing the legendary Peter Thomson who won at the age of 43 in 1972. Senior’s rounds of 75, 68, 69 and 72 saw him finish at four-under-par and claim his second Australian Open–some 23 years after his first Stonehaven Cup in 1989. He earned $225,000 for the victory.
Senior, who only missed three fairways the entire week (a staggering statistic), dedicated his victory to his son (and caddy), Mitchell.
“We’ve been close over in America. We’ve lost three play-offs and come pretty close in a few other events. Just once I would like to say, ‘well done mate, we’ve done it’.”
Senior, who plays primarily on the U.S. Champions Tour, did not expect to be winning an event like this at his age.
“I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now. I really thought these days were over. Golf is such a funny game. One minute you think you are down and the next minute you are up.”
Senior was quick to point out that, despite the victory, he still has his feet firmly on the ground.
“If the conditions were good, the really good players would have shone this week. These are the conditions I thrive in where I just battle it out. Justin Rose and the other guys are great players. Not for one moment do I think I am as good as those guys.
“Winning golf tournaments, you need to have a good week at the right time. I’ve had a good week where I got it done,” he said.
Conditions in the tournament’s final round took centre stage throughout the day, as gale-force winds forced a three-hour suspension of the tournament. With winds clocking 80kph—knocking over a TV tower alongside the 18th green—player and spectator safety was the chief concern for tournament organisers. In addition, the wind was playing havoc on the already difficult golf course.
“It was one of the toughest days I have seen on a golf course,” said Senior
“When the conditions are that tough, I feel that half the guys are out of the competition because they think it is going to be too difficult.”
Following resumption of play at 2:50pm, the main worry centred around the amount of daylight remaining: as the final groups had yet to begin their final round, many had expected the tournament to be forced into a Monday morning finish. In the end, however, all groups managed to finish their round, with the final pairings playing under a floodlit 18th green.
Australia’s Brendan Jones was one of the few players to mount a serious charge on the Sunday, and his one-under-par 71–one of only six scores under par for the day—was good enough to capture solo second. Cameron Percy was a stroke further behind, followed by Kim Felton and Kieran Pratt.
John Senden, who took an overnight lead into the final round for a second year in a row, found it hard going on Sunday, dropping two shots on the first hole and finishing with an 82. Playing partner Justin Rose, the world number four and top-ranked player in the field, saw his chances slip away with two bogeys in the last three holes, finishing with a final round of 76.
63-year-old American Tom Watson – one of the big drawcards for the tournament –shot a 69 for the round of the day on what is likely to be his last tournament in Australia. Unfortunately, Watson’s week was a rollercoaster affair, with scores of 78, 68, 78, 69 effectively eliminating any chance of victory.
Surprisingly, a pair of other notable names made their way onto the leaderboard over the week, with Stuart Appleby finishing a respectable T7, while Tasmanian Mat Goggin – who had just returned from the US following a disappointing miss at the PGA Tour Q-School–ended T14 with pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott.
For the final Emirates Australian Open leaderboard please click here.