Paul Eales slips in at the death to win Scottish Senior Open

Paul Eales came from seven shots behind heading into the final round to record his European Senior Tour breakthrough with a dramatic one-shot victory in the £250,000 Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open at Archerfield Links.

England's Paul Eales tees off at the first in the final round at Archerfield Links. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images
England's Paul Eales tees off at the first in the final round at Archerfield Links. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images

The 53-year-old from Southport birdied the last in a closing 68 for an 11-under-par 205 total, winning by one from Australian Peter Fowler (67) and Spaniard Santiago Luna (74) over the Fidra Links.

The victory saw Eales, who is better known these days for his role as an on-course radio analyst - he followed Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson for Open Radio in their thrilling title tussle at Royal Troon last month - join an exclusive club in European golf by winning on all three of the main circuits.

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He claimed the 1991 Audi Open in Germany on the Challenge Tour before landing the Extremadura Open in Spain on the European Tour three years later.

“It’s just magnificent and to do it here of all places is fantastic,” admitted Essex-born Eales, who was an assistant at Royal Lytham at the outset of his career but it now attached to Royal Birkdale.

“DJ Russell, who designed the courses here, is a great pal, and Tom Younger, the chief executive, and all the other staff here feel like family to me.”

Former European Tour No 1 Ronan Rafferty, who was also trying to land his first over-50s title triumph, came into the closing circuit leading by two shots from Luna after opening rounds 63 and 67.

The Northern Irishman got off to the perfect start with an opening birdie after almost holing his approach with a 9-iron

But, in a testing westerly wind - the direct opposite from the opening two days - Rafferty had been caught by the turn before one of his playing partners, Mike Harwood, took over as the leader.

The Australian was one in front with five to play before dropping shots at the 14th, 15th and 16th to see his title hopes disappear.

Having holed testing par putts at both the 15th and 16th, Eales edged in front for the first time when he holed a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th.

He was home in four-under 32 and, in the end, ran out a worthy winner, earning £38,000 for his efforts.

“I’d missed a little tap in for a par at the eighth and that rattled me a bit, having been comfy until then,” he said.

“But my wife, Sharon, who was caddying for me, said I just had to keep plugging away and those three birdies in a row were definitely the turning point for me.”

Fowler birdied two of the last three holes as he closed with a best-of-the-day five-under effort.

Luna, who was bidding to land this title for the second time after winning at Fairmont St Andrews in 2013, shared second spot with him after narrowly missing with a 25-foot birdie putt at the last.

After closing with a disappointing 78, Rafferty had to settle for a share of fifth on 208 but insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the week.

“I flushed it all day and I’d like to play as well as that and see what my score would be on another day,” said the 52-year-old, who lives near Gleneagles.

Andrew Oldcorn finished as top Scot, sharing 14th spot on 212 after a closing 72.

“My finish on Saturday did me in,” said the Edinburgh man of dropping three shots in his last three holes in the second round. “But, apart from frittering some shots away on the back nine, I played really well today.”