Bernhard Langer continued his historic dominance of over-50s golf by winning The Senior Open Presented by Rolex for a record fourth time as Darren Clarke settled for a share of 10th on debut.
The Dungannon star and 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year was bidding to become just the fourth player in history to win both The Open and The Senior Open but for weekend rounds of 73 and 71 to scupper his chances.
The 50-year old eventually finished six shots back of Langer, collecting €28,601 for a level par tournament showing but it was the German who set a new benchmark for Senior Major Championship victories—with ten—when he last won The Senior Open in 2017 at Royal Porthcawl, and with his win at Royal Lytham & St Annes he became the oldest Senior Open champion as he collected his 11th Senior Major and his 41st professional title since turning 50.
Despite heavy rainfall, which suspended play for over five and a half hours on the final day and then returned for the final nine holes of the championship, Langer remained unfazed, putting on a masterclass as he took control of the tournament with back-to-back birdies on the inward nine, ultimately carding a four-under par 66 to turn a three shot deficit into a two shot victory from 2016 Champion Paul Broadhurst.
“It’s always special to walk down 18 in a Major, but especially over here,” he said. “The people are so knowledgeable about golf, and it’s tremendous how they even came out in these conditions and cheered us on in the rain.
“It feels very special, whether it’s The Open or The Senior Open, to walk down 18 is always a wonderful feeling.
“Now having won 11 Senior Majors, it means a great deal. Nobody has won more than nine if I’m correct, not even the great Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player or Tom Watson who retired from this championship today.
“There’s a lot of great players who have played this game and have played Majors, and I’ve been blessed to have won more than any of them.”
The final round of The Senior Open will also be remembered as Tom Watson’s farewell to competitive links golf. The five-time Champion Golfer of the Year and three-time Senior Open winner announced after his third round that he would be bowing out at the conclusion of his 18th Senior Open appearance.
The American never missed a cut in The Senior Open and remains one of only three men—along with Gary Player and Bob Charles—to win both The Open and The Senior Open. He bows out being considered by many to be the greatest links golfer of all time.
“The crowds on 18 were very warm and appreciative,” Watson said. “The crowd that ended at the ninth hole, which was the farthest point on the golf course, that went all the way out there to watch my final hole, that was very, very special.
“There will be other people who will take the reins and they will do what I did. Life is full of passages, and I’ve passed through my career here, starting in 1975 to here in 2019. It’s amazing.
“I’ll always respect the way the game is played over here. The game of golf is played here with a passion, unequalled, and it’s part of the fabric of life that people have when they play golf here in the U.K. That’s what I’ve always appreciated.”
Europe’s only Senior Major will head to Sunningdale Golf Club near London, England when The Senior Open Presented by Rolex returns in 2020.
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