Golf: Pay-off for Huggett

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The Independent Online
BRIAN HUGGETT snatched the Schroder Senior Masters' title with a three-foot birdie putt in a tense sudden-death play-off with former Ryder Cup colleagues Neil Coles and Eddie Polland at Wentworth yesterday.

All three finished level on seven-under-par 209 before the Welshman struck a six-iron to within three feet of the 18th play-off hole for his winning birdie three.

It was his first title since picking up the Shell Scottish Seniors at Aberdeen in 1995 and he owed it to a superb closing 66 which equalled the best of the week. He had started out four shots off the pace and set the clubhouse target later matched by both Coles (68) and Polland (70).

The trio, all former Ryder Cup team-mates in at Muirfield back in 1973, grabbed the limelight throughout the day. But it was 61-year-old Huggett, winner of 31 titles worldwide and eight as a senior, who had enthused a 6,000 crowd over the tricky Edinburgh course.

He zipped through the field with an eagle three and six birdies in his final round. When he had an eagle on the 10th with a four-iron to nine feet he moved temporarily into the lead before the overnight leader, Polland, and Coles came alongside.

Huggett's cheque for pounds 25,000 was the biggest of his career and took him to third place in the Senior Tour rankings behind Tommy Horton and Bobby Verwey with pounds 37,572.

He said "I've been putting like a 36-handicapper for the past two years. I was owed a few and collected some today. It was great to come up the last hole with a big crowd cheering. I thought those days had long gone."

The Broome Manor club professional Barry Sandry, who celebrated his 51st birthday with a 66 in the opening round, stayed with the big names until the closing holes. But he then stumbled with three bogeys for a 70 and a four-under-par 212 for fourth spot alongside Tommy Horton (69).