Leeds Golf Centre’s Steven East was beaten in a three man play off for the English senior men’s championship at Saunton Golf Club, Devon.
In the end it was Doug Cameron from Henley Golf Club who saw off the challenge of former winner East and championship low-scorer Michael Jarvis after they both tangled with a bunker on the first extra hole.
It’s his first major senior title and, after his third place in Ireland a few weeks ago, he will achieve his great dream of returning to the England senior side. “It feels great to win, it’s fantastic,” he said.
But Cameron knew he had earned his crown the hard way, bluntly describing his three-over par final round as a “car crash.”
It certainly didn’t start that way. He had looked in total control as he went out in two-under par and worked his way to a comfortable four-shot lead as he approached the closing holes.
But a bad drive on 14 triggered a run of five dropped shots over three holes. “I was playing really nicely, it was very solid and I felt comfortable, but then I hit a bad tee shot on 14,” he said. At the same time Gloucestershire’s Jarvis and Yorkshire’s East were both doing all they could to further close the gap.
Jarvis (The Players Club) followed his game plan of aggressive play and was rewarded with a three-under 68, which made up a seven shot deficit. He set the clubhouse target on four-over par, which was matched when East ground out his round of level par 71. He had a chance to move into the outright lead on 18 but his birdie putt finished a couple of inches short of the hole.
Behind them, Cameron was regrouping with a birdie two on 17 which gave him a one-shot lead as he approached the final hole. But his tee shot flew right into a bank of rough and he was forced to lay up about 70 yards short and his bogey dropped him into the three-way tie.
However, he has an excellent play-off record and, despite a tee shot which drifted right onto an uphill lie, he held his nerve to reach the green in three and then rolled a long putt up to the hole-side. “I’m just delighted to win, it doesn’t get better than this, on a fabulous golf course,” he said.
Yorkshireman Richard Norton wasted no time in making an impact on his debut appearance in the 54 hole event after setting the first round pace on two-under par.
Norton was stepping on to the national stage for the first time, having turned 55 in March, and he promptly shot 69 on the West course. It gave him a three-shot lead over the rest of the field with 13 players grouped on one-over.
“It’s my first senior championship and I’ve shot under par so I’m very happy with that,” said Norton, who is a member at Beverley and East Riding Golf Club, after his round.
His practice round, played in strong winds, wasn’t auspicious. “I lost four balls and thought ‘oh dear.’ But my first tee shot today felt smooth and it just went from there.”
He was level par going out with a birdie and a bogey balancing each other – and then played the back nine in two-under, holing a long putt on the 10thand a 10-footer on the 15thfor his birdies.
Norton was among the earlier starters, who enjoyed the breezy sunshine. But by mid-afternoon rain set in, adding an extra dimension to the challenge of Saunton’s two magnificent courses.
The chasing pack included Moor Allerton’s Johnny Lawrence who had a hole-in-one on the 16th, following a chip-in eagle three on the third. He took an eight-iron for his 172-yard shot to the 16th which provided him with his fifth ace.
“I played nicely,” he said afterwards. “It was tough out there but the course was beautiful. It’s fantastic here with two unbelievable courses.”
Norton closed with back to back 77s to finish tied 14th whilst Lawrence slipped away with successive rounds of 80.