Senior Open: Stephen Dodd birdies the last to win and secure a place at next year’s 150th Open at St Andrews
The Welshman was tied with Spain’s Miguel Ángel Jiménez with one hole remaining but played a sublime approach shot to ten feet before rolling in the birdie putt for a two under par round of 68 to reach 13 under par and finish one stroke clear of the Spaniard.
Dodd showed a supreme display of frontrunning as he headed into the final round with a two-stroke lead after tying both the course record and the lowest round in Senior Open history with an eight under par 62 on Saturday. He started the final round by birdieing the first to settle any pre-round nerves, before bouncing back from a bogey at the eighth with a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at one under par, and it was the same story coming home.
The 55-year-old responded to his second bogey of the day at the par three 13th with a birdie on the par five 14th, before his closing birdie secured a memorable victory and also earned Dodd an exemption into the 150th Open at St Andrews in 2022.
“I'm not sure it's sunk in yet,” said Dodd. “It's been quite a tough day.
"I said yesterday I've not played any competitive golf - well, one tournament in 18 or 19 months, so there's no real competitive golf behind me, so I didn't know what to expect this week, and even today, I didn't play great today, like a few of the previous days, so I just ground it out and made a few silly mistakes and made up with a couple decent shots and some putts.”
Jiménez, the 2018 champion, posted a five under par round of 65 to finish second on 12 under par, with Northern Irishman Darren Clarke third on 11 under par. Defending champion Bernhard Langer threatened to make a late charge for a fifth Senior Open triumph, but a bogey on the 17th hole ended his hopes as he finished fourth on nine under par.
Colin Montgomerie finished in a share of 11th after a final-round 69 for a three-under par total, ten shots behind the winner.