By Mark Hayes
If it’s meant to be the age of the next wave, somebody forgot to send Peter Senior the script.
Senior, 56, won his third Australian Masters at Huntingdale today, a mere 24 years after his first and 36 years after his first professional win in 1979.
Almost unbelievably, it completed a career triple crown AFTER age 50 having won the 2010 Australian PGA and 2012 Emirates Australian Open.
The Queenslander forged into contention with a 68 in gruelling conditions on Saturday, then held his nerve in a tense finish to replicate that figure for a two-stroke win at eight under par.
Boom American amateur Bryson DeChambeau, US PGA Tour star John Senden and unheralded Sydneysider Andrew Evans finished tied second at six under, while Adam Scott regained ground lost on Saturday to finish fifth at five under.
But the moment belonged to Senior, who made a sensational sand save from a greenside trap on the 18th hole, presumably thinking he needed to do so before Evans made a pair of closing bogeys having briefly shared the lead.
“You could easily leave it short or you could go too far and go off the front of the green, so yeah, I was pretty happy with that,” Senior beamed.
“I had a little bit of a downhill lie, which actually helped me because all we had to do was bump it out and let it run up the hill.
“Once it got to the top of the hill, I thought it would feed all the way down. I was surprised it stopped as short as it did.
“But the putt was probably the best I hit all day.”
Senior, clearly emotional and genuinely shocked to have won, said he just “didn’t expect to win these events any more”.
“But once I birdied the 10th hole today, I figured I had a really good chance. I played pretty solid. I hit a couple bad shots towards the end there, but I’m just over the moon.”
“To win this tournament, the Aussie Open a few years ago and the PGA a couple of years before that, all of them over 50 years of age, I think that’s a big thing for me.”
Senior was clearly taken by the support of a large and vocal crowd at Huntingdale who clearly were honouring not only his three-under charge today, but also the sustained brilliance over four decades.
“Nearly every hole on the back nine everyone was cheering me, even my sh–ty shots,” he joked.
“It was just great. I have not had that sort of following for a very, very long time. It sort of encouraged me. When I looked up on, I think it was 14, and saw that I was a couple in front, gave me a bit of a boost.
“It’s just amazing. I’m still blown over winning this tournament. But golf’s a funny game. That’s what we play it for, and I’m really happy to be the winner.”
Senior said he wasn’t sure whether pulling on his third gold jacket or the love from the crowd meant more.
“I think a bit of both. I had a lot of friends out there today following me. They were crying when I finished. I’m really happy that I’ve got such a great family and the friends that I have.
“I think I’ve been around that long that everybody knows me, and a lot of the people here, I’m more the elderly type that I’m sort of singing around the last nine holes. I’m just real happy to be part of Australian golf.”
Tournament favourite Adam Scott said it was remarkable that the veteran had saluted, but that “it shouldn’t be a surprise” given his stunning career with 33 professional victories around the world.
“Pete, obviously he’s based his career around being very accurate and precise. He’s a hell of a competitor,” Scott said.
And that fact should never be doubted by anyone who looks through the history of Australian golf.