Heysham’s Jack Senior held his nerve for a breakthrough win on Sunday.
The former Walker Cup star produced some stunning golf at crucial moments to secure a maiden Challenge Tour title after a four-hole, sudden-death play-off at the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
The 26-year-old eagled the par four ninth hole at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club to burst into back nine contention and then birdied the 13th and 16th holes before rolling home a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to secure a play-off with compatriot Robert Coles and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat.
Senior’s final round of four under 67 set the clubhouse target of 16 under par which was soon matched by Meesawat and Coles.
Inseparable after 72 holes, the trio returned to the 18th three times but a winner could not be determined so they moved to the first where Senior’s booming drive almost found the par four green.
With Meesawat and Coles playing their second shots to 25 and 20 feet respectively, Senior knew he had a great chance if he could land his chip close.
With the pressure on again, the Heysham man responded brilliantly again as he flopped his chip to just six inches.
With Meesawat and Coles missing their birdie putts, Senior was left the easiest winning putt he will ever have and tapped-in for a potentially career-changing victory worth €40,000 that propels him from 29th to third in the Road to Oman Rankings and a great position to win one of the 15 European Tour cards on offer to the Challenge Tour’s finest at the end of the season.
Senior, who has been close to making his breakthrough on the Challenge Tour, most notably at the Made in Denmark Challenge where he finished tied fourth, said: “I should have won in Denmark a few weeks ago but had a disappointing finish there so to come here just a few weeks later is very satisfying.
“The key today was the eagle on nine. I hit a great drive and just committed to it. I just thought ‘you have to stand up and be counted’ and I hit a great drive down there onto the green to about five feet and rolled in the putt.
“After that, which was just after I made a great birdie on eight from a horrendous lie, that’s when I thought that maybe I had a chance to win, that it might be my day.
“I knew I had been playing well enough to win recently but you just never know till you get over the line.”
Senior now moves onto final qualifying for The Open Championship on Tuesday.
He will be joined by Morecambe amateur Thomas Winn in final qualifying at Hillside Golf Club, Southport, as they look to take one of the coveted three spots in the sport’s most iconic event at St Andrews next month.
The pair are part of a 72-man field who will play two rounds on Merseyside.