OLD FATHER TIME took a back-seat as Fred Couples rolled back the years to capture the British Seniors Open at Turnberry in Scotland.
The 52-year-old former Masters champion captured the title for the first time, ensuring his participation in the Open Championship next summer, after his rival on the last day, Bernhard Langer, imploded.
Couples finished on -9 and finished two shots clear of compatriot Gerry Hallberg.
He was trailing Langer, who owns two Masters green blazers, by one shot after eight holes but match officials intervened to ruffle the German.
The grouping got a warning for slow play on the eighth hole and it was Couples who was told he may be penalised a shot.
The American was overheard saying that he was not the one holding up proceedings; the comment throwing spotlight back on Langer, a golfer who is notoriously methodical in his playing style.
Couples and Langer both ended up bogeying the eighth but the American retained his compusure to grab a birdie on the 11th.
The German, on the other hand, carded a double bogey on 12 and his round fell apart thereafter. He eventually finished on -2, seven shots back and tied for sixth place.
In 1991, Langer needed a full point in his Ryder Cup singles match but missed a six-foot putt to give Hale Irwin a half. The USA retained the cup as the scores were tied 14-14.
Speaking after the trophy presentation, Couples said, “I’m happy and excited to have won this.” He added:
On the green the first thing I said to Bernhard was, ‘I don’t know if I get to play in The Open next year’ and he said you do.
“So to have one more Open to look forward to makes it extra special.”
Langer said: “The back nine was a disaster, I hit a couple of loose shots but the clock didn’t help.”
“Fred played very well,” he added with sincerity. ”To finish birdie, birdie – that is the mark of a great champion. Well deserved.”
Mark McNulty from Ireland was joint-18th after finishing on +3. Des Smyth was tied in 35th position after closing out his four rounds on +7. Denis O’Sullivan (+21) finished down in a tie for 73rd.