Golf: Anders Forsbrand clinches Scottish seniors win
IT may not have topped winning the Dunhill Cup on the hallowed fairways of the Old Course, but victory in the SSE Scottish Senior Open at the other end of the Auld Grey Toun still proved sweet for Swede Anders Forsbrand.
In an event that made a real mockery of those who poke fun at the senior game, the 51-year-old signed off with a five-under 67 to claim the £37,285 top prize with a 17-under total of 199.
Five clear midway through the final round, Florida-based Forsbrand just held on for a one-shot victory after Englishman Philip Golding, playing in the same group, closed with a second successive 64.
The victory saw Forsbrand become the first Swede to win on the European Senior Tour, a fitting feat for a man who was one of the pioneers of Scandinavian golf in the 1980s.
“It’s like winning my first European Tour title [the Swiss Masters in 1987],” said the new champion after ending Englishman Barry Lane’s bid for a hat-trick of victories in the event. “I’ve never won anything individually in Britain so that is cool.”
The victory came 30 years after his first professional success – in the Swedish PGA Championship – and bridged a 17-year gap since his last triumph, which came in the German Masters.
In between those successes, he helped Sweden chalk up a dream double, winning both the Dunhill Cup and the World Cup in 1991. He teamed up with Per Ulrik Johansson and Mats Lanner in the former and had Johansson as his team-mate in the latter.
“That was pretty special but this is my 12th win in total as a professional and they’ve all got great memories,” he added.
Three ahead of East Lothian-based DJ Russell at the start of the day, Forsbrand looked to be cruising to the title when, after opening with two pars, he then reeled off three birdies in succession.
He picked up two more shots – at the eighth and ninth – to reach the turn in 30, then moved to 18-under for the tournament with his sixth birdie of the day at the 13th, before opening the door to Golding with a three-putt bogey at the 16th.
After both parred the 17th, it meant Forsbrand boarded the last tee with his lead down to just two shots but, even though Golding kept pushing to the end and closed with a birdie in another flawless round, a solid par from Forsbrand got the job done.
Russell, the newly-crowned British Par-3 champion, played his part in a wonderful last-day display for the decent-sized galleries, closing with a 67 to finish third on 202, five shots ahead of Welshman Ian Woosnam (67), South African Chris Williams (68), Englishman George Ryall (69) and St Andrews-born Austrian Gordon Manson (70).
“It was incredible golf out there,” reflected Forsbrand after getting his hands on the trophy. “Phil played great, as did DJ on the back nine. They both started great so I was pleased to hole a 20-footer for a birdie at the third and then make two-putt birdies at the fourth and fifth.
“But then I eased off a bit and Phil started getting closer and closer. When I three-putted the 16th, missing a short one for par, that made it a bit more difficult so to come through in the end is wonderful.”
It was certainly a better feeling than the day, in 1994, when he ran out of balls playing in the French Open and was subsequently disqualified over a no return.
Standing on the 18th tee, his score was 93, having racked up a sextuple bogey, a quintuple one, two quadruples, one triple, one double and three normal bogeys.
After two more balls ended up in the water playing the last at Le Golf National, he’d ran out of ammunition, which probably came as something of a relief as he hurtled towards a score in the 100s.
In his first season in the over-50s ranks, some of the golf Forsbrand played might have evoked painful memories of that day as he failed to finish higher than 13th. But, having finished second in the PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall, he sensed a return to the winner’s enclosure was in the offing.
“This year I saw good signals,” he said. “The putter wasn’t co-operating at times but this week I holed a few putts. I’ve not been in this position for 17 years but I still remembered how to win and was trying not to jump ahead.”
Golding, who needed 201 bites at the cherry before he finally won on the main Tour, will be tasting success on the senior circuit a lot quicker based on this performance, which was only his second event on the circuit.
“When you shoot two 64s on the weekend and don’t win, that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “But I’m delighted with the way I played and it has been a good start to life on the Senior Tour so far.”
Sam Torrance closed with a second successive 69 to finish as the top Scot, tying for 14th on 210, one better than Andrew Oldcorn (71).
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Monday 20 May 2013
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