Bruce Vaughan holed a 20-foot putt to beat John Cook in a play-off and win the Senior British Open yesterday, his first tournament win either as a senior or a regular PGA Tour player.
In a dramatic turnaround at Royal Troon, Cook squandered a three-stroke lead after 10 holes and went to the 72nd still leading Vaughan by one. But he fired his tee shot right into the rough and then played his third well short of the green. He still decided to putt, but left it 15 feet short for a bogey five to finish with an even-par round of 71.
Vaughan made par for a 70 to leave both on 6-under 278, and the two Americans returned to the 18th tee for a sudden death play-off – the championship's third in the last four years.
Vaughan pitched to the centre of the green and then holed his putt. Cook, however, missed his putt from 12 feet and the former firefighter from Hutchinson, Kansas, collected his biggest paycheck of £156,758. "Money is great but until you win, you're just another player. It's all about winning. You only get a few of these," said Vaughan, whose mother, Maxine, died in a car crash seven weeks ago after returning from watching him play in Iowa.
Eduardo Romero finished third after failing to make the play-off by missing an eight-foot putt at the last hole. He made a 70 to finish at five-under 279, one shot ahead of Bernhard Langer (68). Greg Norman also made a 68 for a share of fifth place with Gene Jones (68) and the three-times champion Tom Watson (70), all at two under.
It was something of a repeat disaster for Cook, who missed a short putt at the 1992 British Open at Muirfield and finished second to Nick Faldo. But he defended his decision to putt from at least 10 yards short of the green at the last hole. "I just felt the putter was a better play and I've been doing that all week," he said.
At one stage, it seemed Cook was cruising to the title. He made birdies at the third and fourth holes and then seven and eight to reach the turn at 10 under overall, with a three-shot lead. But that slipped to one at the 11th, where he drove his ball into some bushes and wound up missing a five-foot putt to settle for a double-bogey six.