“DREADFUL, shocking, absolutely dire,” said Paul Broadhurst of a play-off record that had seen him come out on top just twice in 12 previous shootouts in his career. Four of those disappointments had come on the European Tour, but perhaps a new chapter on the Senior circuit has signalled a welcome change of luck.
On his over-50s debut, the Englishman won the £250,000 Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open at the second extra hole on the Fidra Course at Archerfield Links, rolling in a 20-foot downhill putt at the par-5 18th to get into a play-off with Gordon Manson then matching that birdie at the same hole on two subsequent visits to deny the Austrian-based Scot.
Tied for the lead overnight, Broadhurst and Manson both signed off with bogey-free four-under-par 68s to finish on 209 – seven-under and three shots better than Mark Mouland in third place after the Welshman closed with the same score on a delightful, albeit breezy, afternoon on the East Lothian coast.
“I’m absolutely delighted as it’s a long time since I won anything really big,” admitted Broadhurst, who recorded six victories on the European Tour – the last of which was in the 2006 Portuguese Open – and also played in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island. “I didn’t think it was going to be my day today because Gordon played solid and drove the ball beautiful. I thought my opportunity had gone when I missed chances at the ninth, tenth and 11th, but thankfully I made that good birdie putt at the last [it was even better considering he’d been bunkered off the tee and had to lay up well short of the green] then played the hole really solid both times in the play-off.”
The Midlander, who was staying with David J Russell, the man who designed the course being used for the tournament’s first staging on Scotland’s Golf Coast, is the tenth player to make a winning debut on the European Senior Tour and picked up a cheque for just over £38,000. Having revealed earlier in the week that, with four kids either at school or college, his bank account had “taken a bit of hammering” in recent years as he waited for this new phase in his career to come around, he jokingly said: “That will get us through past Christmas.”
By the sounds of things, the win also earned plenty others a windfall. “I’m really chuffed because 50 people must have said they’d be backing me to win first time out. I said ‘don’t be stupid’ because the standard is very high out here but hopefully they’ve won a few quid.”
His only disappointment was that his “biggest fan” wasn’t there to see the victory. “Dave Baxter, a good friend of mine, passed away in February,” revealed Broadhurst, choking back the tears. “There’s no question that he’d have been here so Boris, this is for you mate.”
Manson, who was born in St Andrews but has lived and worked in Austria for more than 30 years, couldn’t have done any more in his brave bid to score a second win of the season, having made the breakthrough on the Senior Tour in Switzerland earlier in the year. He matched a Broadhurst birdie at the 16th to keep his nose in front then played a delightful bump and run from the left side of the green to salvage a par at the short 17th.
Bidding to become the first Scottish-born player to claim the title since Sam Torrance in 2006, he’d left himself a tap in at the last for victory until Broadhurst’s birdie putt just had enough legs on it to topple in. At the first visit to the 18th green in the play-off, the 55-year-old followed his title rival in from seven feet to stay alive. From 15 feet next time around, his attempt agonisingly horse-shoed around the rim of the hole. “I’m not disappointed because golf is a game of small margins, as we saw there,” said Manson, who picked up a consolation cheque for around £25,000. “Well done to Paul as it is terrific for him to win on his debut. I was determined to win and felt relaxed all day. I was trying to push all the time and keep my foot on the accelerator. I made a good up and down at the 17th to stay in the lead and did what I wanted to do at the last and also in the play-off. It was just unfortunate that my birdie putt at the second extra hole came straight back to me after looking as though it was in the middle of the hole.”
With a win and two second-placed finishes under his belt in the last five events, he is heading into this week’s Travis Perkins Masters at Woburn in fine fettle. “People are right when they say that winning first time out here is tough. But I know that I can do it now. I was delighted with the way I played this week, but it wasn’t quite my day on this occasion.”
A five-under-par 67 – the best of the week – helped China’s Lianwei Zhang secure a share of fourth spot on 213, while the honour of leading Scot – Manson represents Austria – went to Bill Longmuir. A former winner, the 62-year-old signed off with a 74 to finish in joint-eighth on 216, one ahead of Stephen McAllister after he signed for the same last-day score.