• Win is only his second in 30 years as a professional
• Defending champion Langer second; Monty third
MARCO DAWSON | SENIOR OPEN
American Marco Dawson produced a stunning back nine fightback to storm to victory in the Senior Open Championship, overcoming European Ryder Cup legends Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.
The 51-year-old, whose best finish in 413 events on the PGA Tour was runner-up in the 1995 Greater Milwaukee Open, sank a dramatic and decisive 18ft birdie putt on the last hole for a round of 64 to finish one shot clear of defending champion Langer, who also closed with a 64, while Montgomerie was a further two shots back.
It proved to be a fascinating final round at Sunningdale Golf Club, with Montgomerie seemingly in control for much of the afternoon following an impressive four-under-par front nine of 31.
The 2010 European Ryder Cup captain moved three shots clear of Dawson on the tenth hole after Dawson made his third bogey of the round immediately after the turn following an outward nine of 33, which included an eagle on the ninth.
"This is unbelievable" - Marco Dawson
But fortune swung in Dawson’s favour when Montgomerie, pictured below, made back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes and the American birdied both holes.
That reignited his title bid and he moved to the top of the leaderboard in spectacular fashion courtesy of the second eagle of his round on the 14th hole, after Langer had previously moved serenely into pole position with five birdies in his opening 12 holes.
It then came down to a battle between those two over the closing holes, and Dawson’s long birdie putt on the last meant that when Langer holed his own ten-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, it was only to reduce the margin of victory to a single shot.
Langer, therefore, narrowly missed out on a record-equalling third Senior Open title, following his dominant 13-shot victory at Royal Porthcawl last year, but for Dawson it was an emotional maiden senior major championship, after only capturing his first title on the Champions Tour in March.
“This is unbelievable,” said the new champion. “I can't tell you how many hours I put in on the range, and I've had two back surgeries to prove it. I've spent a lot of time on the range and on the putting green over the years, and you know, it's a little later than most of the guys, but it came true.”
"I just made one putt more than Bernhard." - Marco Dawson
“I had a lot of fun last year. I wasn't expecting a lot but things started to happen and I started getting more and more confident. And then I won earlier this year, which gave me a lot of confidence through the rest of the season, and when I got to this point two days ago, and I had a good first round and a good second, I thought, okay, maybe this is going to happen again. I said we'll just keep on making the swings and try and make the putts. That's what it comes down to. I just made one more putt than Bernhard.”
Dawson’s victory also means he qualifies for next year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon, which will be his first appearance in golf’s oldest major.
Marco Dawson :: Did you know...
The new Senior Open champion, Marco Dawson, was born in Germany on November 17, 1963.