PETER Senior outclassed a host of challengers half his age to clinch his third Australian Masters title by two strokes yesterday, and at 56 became the oldest winner in the tournament’s 36-year history.
The stocky veteran overcame a bout of nerves and withstood a late charge by Sydney professional Andrew Evans at Melbourne’s Huntingdale Golf Club before sealing the win on the 18th hole with a clutch putt for par.
Senior’s final-round three-under 68 gave him an eight-under total of 276, sealing his third gold jacket 20 years after his second at Huntingdale in 1995. His first was in 1991. The hugely popular Queenslander now owns the records for oldest winner at all three of his nation’s marquee tournaments, having won the Australian Open at 53 in 2012 and the Australian PGA Championship in 2010.
“I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now,” an emotional Senior said at the trophy presentation after donning the gaudy winner’s coat.
Senior’s performance on the sandbelt course stole the spotlight from the tournament favourite, former world No 1 Adam Scott, who finished fifth on four-under after blowing his chance with a horror 77 in the third round.
Scott shot a final-round 69 and paid tribute to Senior, who struggles against the big hitters in the modern game but does well on Huntingdale’s short holes.
Teeing off two strokes behind overnight leader Matthew Millar, Senior threw down the gauntlet at the 10th hole, the course’s longest par-four at 436m, with a sublime two-iron approach that gave him a tap-in birdie for the lead.
Another birdie at the 13th gave him a three-stroke buffer and Senior appeared set to cruise to victory before shanking a three-wood off the tee into trees on the 17th.
The resulting bogey drew him level with fast-finishing Evans.
On the 18th, Senior landed in a greenside bunker, but managed to save par before Evans crumbled.
Evans’s final-round 71 left him joint second on six-under with John Senden (70) and US Amateur champion Bryce de Chambeau.