Scotland has been good – make that very good – to Paul Broadhurst since he became a golfing goldie oldie. First, he made a winning over-50s debut in the Scottish Seniors Open at Archerfield Links last August. Now the Nuneaton man has tasted victory again at the first attempt, this time landing an even bigger prize, the £1.35m Senior Open.
His two-shot success at Carnoustie was partially helped by an uncharacteristic last-round collapse by Miguel Angel Jimenez, who had led by four shots overnight but stumbled to a costly 75. Take nothing away from Broadhurst, though. The Englishman may have been a so-called journeyman during his European Tour career, but this Senior major was richly deserved in the end.
With a closing 68 for an 11-under-par total of 277, he finished two shots ahead of American Scott McCarron (69), with Jimenez and Swede Magnus Atlevi (67) one further behind in joint-third. In becoming the first Englishman since Neil Coles, who won the inaugural event at Turnberry in 1997, to claim this prize, Broadhurst has earned a spot in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. He also picked up a career-best cheque for £213,040.
“It is absolutely massive. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to me,” confessed Broadhurst, who had his 19-year-old son, Sam, caddying for him. “I’m usually always the bridesmaid. To be honest, I was playing for second place and would have been happy with that. But to win is just incredible.” More incredible than winning six European Tour titles and playing in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island? “This has got to be the biggest achievement of my career,” he replied. Given he was four-over after 27 holes and in danger of missing the cut, it’s easy to see why.
Of the leading contenders, Broadhurst was the only one who covered Carnoustie’s fearsome final four holes in par or better in the last round. His birdie from five feet at the 15th put him ahead for the first time. He then made a hat-trick of brilliant up-and-downs to save pars. Having splashed out from a greenside bunker at the last, he had two putts for victory but only needed one. His joyous reaction said it all. “I was in control of my emotions until I holed the putt at the 15th to lead,” he said. “Then reality hit and my swing and heart rate both became faster.”
Flawless on Saturday, Jimenez, pictured, simply fell apart. It perhaps stemmed from him missing from two-and-a-half feet for a birdie at the fourth. The gain he then made at the par-5 sixth was cancelled out by a bogey at the ninth, where he came up short right from a good position to get at the flag. His approach at the next was more wayward and more expensive. It hit a tree and dropped down into the burn, resulting in a double-bogey 6.
Another shot slipped away after he found a greenside bunker at the short 13th. A chip that almost dropped for an eagle at the next was more like it. As was a 5-iron approach that set up a birdie chance at the 17th. He was unable to convert that, though, before finishing with another 6 after almost going out of bounds with a thinned third from the same bunker that Broadhurst found but escaped to better effect. “Anything like this that happens in this way is very disappointing,” admitted Jimenez. “I didn’t look like the same guy who played yesterday. I missed a good chance for birdie on the fourth and after that I didn’t have the help of fate.”
On his return to the scene of the first of five Open Championship wins in 1975, Tom Watson was pleased to make 17 birdies in four rounds. Three double-bogeys cancelled out some of that good work, leaving the 66-year-old in joint-27th on one-over but picking up the Fred Daly Award for the leading over-60s player. “It’s been great to be back,” he admitted after signing for a 71, the score Bernhard Langer, the 2010 winner here, shot in all four rounds to finish joint-ninth. “It was still the same Carnoustie but with no wind. We really had four days of ideal conditions.”
Andrew Oldcorn, the sole Scot to make it to the weekend, said he felt “beaten up” after closing with a 74, finishing joint-44th on six-over. “The course defeated me,” admitted the 56-year-old, who recently ended a five-year drought with victory on the European Senior Tour in Germany. “The pins were brutal today and the course playing at its full length of 7,300 yards is too difficult, in my opinion. We normally don’t play anything over 7,000 yards. Having said that, in a strange way I still enjoyed this week.”
Broadhurst certainly did and, despite having now secured a Champions Tour exemption through until the end of 2017, he confirmed he’ll be at Archerfield Links next month to defend his Scottish Seniors title. Good on him.