O'Connor Jnr retains Senior British Open

Roared on by his huge army of fans, Ireland's Christy O'Connor Jnr became the second man in history to defend the Senior British Open successfully when he overcame a one-shot overnight deficit to defeat South Africa's John Bland in County Down yesterday.

Roared on by his huge army of fans, Ireland's Christy O'Connor Jnr became the second man in history to defend the Senior British Open successfully when he overcame a one-shot overnight deficit to defeat South Africa's John Bland in County Down yesterday.

The 51-year-old O'Connor Jnr produced a closing three-under-par 68 for a seven-under-par aggregate of 275 to finish two shots ahead of the field.

Bland, still looking for his first Senior British Open win, had to settle for second for the third time in four years. He recorded a level-par 71 in his closing round, finishing two shots ahead of America's Hubert Green.

"Bland is a very tough gentleman, so it's great to beat him here," said O'Connor. "It is very special to win on the best course in the world and it's even better to do it in front of all these fantastic fans."

O'Connor, who collected a winners cheque for £63,000, said he was looking forward to trying to win the title for the third time in a row.

"I'm certainly going to try," he said. "I thought last year was so much, winning at Portrush. To win the Open at Royal County Down has made my whole life in golf."

Bland said: "I seem to like coming second in this championship. When we got to 14 and 15 it got to be a matchplay situation between the two of us, but I couldn't quite do enough to catch him. All credit to him because he played some great golf."

SENIOR BRITISH OPEN (Royal Co Down) Leading final scores:

275 C O'Connor Jnr (Eng) 69 68 70 68. 277 J Bland (SA) 68 67 71 71. 279 H Green (US) 68 72 68 71. 280 J Morgan (Eng) 71 71 69 69. 281 B Charles (NZ) 75 68 71 68. 285 D Stockton (US) 73 69 73 70; T Horton (Eng) 75 69 68 73; S Ebihara (Japan), 71 70 70 74; N Ratcliffe (Aus) 67 73 71 74. 286 N Coles (Eng) 72 71 71 72; M Gregson (Eng) 76 68 69 73. 288 D Jones (N Irl) 79 70 72 67; B Verwey (SA) 76 68 74 70; D Huish (Sco) 74 73 69 72. 289 D McClean (US) 73 71 74 71; J Grace (US) 72 76 69 72; B Shearer (Aus), 74 68 71 76. 290 D O'Sullivan (Irl) 70 71 77 72; N Sugai (Japan) 77 71 70 72; D Oakley (US), 72 74 67 77.

*denotes amateur

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