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Wesselingh upstages Woosie in Wales

PAUL Wesselingh, a former Chorley and Northenden pro, forced Ian Woosnam to wait at least another year for a long overdue victory in his homeland when he captured the SSE Enterprise Wales Senior Open title at The Celtic Manor Resort by two shots.

The 53-year-old conquered the Roman Road course thanks to an astute game plan and a hot putter as he took the title and £37,500 first prize with a closing 67 seven-under-par total of 203.

Woosnam, who shared the overnight lead with Wesselingh, briefly hit the front but the damage was done for the Welsh favourite – without a win in his native country for a quarter of a century – when he bogeyed the 11th and Wesselingh then birdied the 12th.

The former Masters Champion closed with a 69 for 205, the same aggregate as Australian Peter Fowler, who birdied four of the last six holes to grab a share of the runner-up prize.

Despite the crowds providing strong support for Woosnam, who was seeking a transatlantic double in the space of a month after winning in the United States, it was another frustrating finish for the Welshman. He took defeat on the chin and admitted: “Paul played really well and I just didnít play good enough golf today. I hit too many wrong clubs.”

Wesselingh, who was effectively winning back-to-back on the European Senior Tour having claimed the end of season MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius last December, said: “It’s lovely to start the new season in Europe as I finished the last one. It’s been an unbelievable week on a course I love. Perfect, really!”

Wesselingh, who has now won eight Senior Tour titles in the three years since he joined the ranks of the over-50s, confessed that victory had been a bit of a shock to him. He said: “I honestly thought Ian would win. I played with him in the third round of the Senior PGA Championship last week and he played so well that I felt I would have to hang on to his coat-tails to stay with him!

“As it turned out, I had a perfect game plan. I knew with the windy conditions I had to keep the ball under control and not to go for any tricky pins. I had been putting so well all week I had confidence in my short game and didn’t worry if I was 30 or 40 feet away.

“The day turned around the 11th and 12th. Woosie’s second shot spun off the green at the 11th and he took a bogey then I birdied the next to move two ahead.

“That was it, really.”

Not for the first time, Woosnam found himself in the final group in Wales and was unable to close the deal. He added: “I didn’t manage to read the wind very well on any of the three days. I did appreciate the support of the Welsh galleries and the tournament is good for Wales.

“Hopefully I will be back again to try to win for everyone supporting me.”