Surrey’s Wraith Grant admitted his ‘relief’ as he overcame a potential second Senior meltdown to capture the Senior PGA Professional Championship title at Northants County.
The Woodcote Park Professional carded a final round two-over-par 72 to finish two-over for the tournament and win his first national PGA tournament by one shot from debutant Robert Ellis (Newark). Baildon’s Richard Masters took third place – his best performance at the venue.
But the prospect of throwing it all away came to bear when Grant bogeyed four holes in a row from the sixth. It caused a flashback to the start of the year when Grant suffered a final day collapse at Senior Tour qualifying school going from top of the leaderboard to tied eighth – in the process missing out on a full card for a top six finish.
Grant, who opened with a birdie but bogeyed the next before the quartet of dropped shots, admitted that played heavily on his mind as he approached the back nine, however, having won the pro-am and chalked up the score of the week with his second round 68, aided by four birdies over the home stretch, he retained confidence to see the job through with crucial birdies at 13 and 14.
“Those four bogeys took me back to TourSchool without question,” said the 52-year-old, who also picked up a cheque for £4,750.
“I’ve messed up a few times when I’ve been in good positions near the end. It looked like I’d messed up again and to recover from that, what happened at TourSchool definitely helped. I stayed in the moment and thought just finish it somehow. Get it round and don’t panic.
“I was trying to play steady as I knew the scoring is so hard round here. I knew the 68 I had showed that someone was going to have to do well to break par. I was really trying to stay in there and then had three three putts on the trot. That was like a nightmare.
“But having played four-under on the back nine yesterday I thought if I could get at least one back and be one under playing the last it might give me a chance. I hoped one or two would have a chance but I didn’t look at the leaderboards over the back nine so I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
“I holed my putt on the last and looked up at the board and seen that Robert had finished three over and it was a shock [that I’d won]. It’s a sense of achievement and feels great. It’s unbelievable.”
Grant, who paid tribute to his club secretary Adrian Dawson who came up to caddy on the final day, will now go on to the ISPS HANDA PGA Senior Championship at De Vere Mottram Hall next month looking to build on this performance.
He will be joined by Ellis and Masters, and the rest of the top 20 finishers at NorthantsCounty, who have the opportunity to take on the elite in the £260,000 event.
Ellis, who sandwiched a second round 69 between two 72s to earn £3,500, was more than pleased with his showing given the majority of his time dedicated to his duties as club professional at Newark.
He said: “This is a fantastic result. At the start of the week my first aim was to make the cut and try and get in the top 20 to get to Mottram Hall. Anything else was going to be a bonus so I’m delighted with second.”
Yorkshireman Masters, like Grant, overcame a testing start to regroup and claim his best finish in the championship.
Masters closed with a three-over-par 73 to finish four-over for the tournament. He was five-over for his round after 11 holes but birdies on 13 and 15 rescued his round.
“Until today my best finish was fifth so I am happy with third, which is a bit of bonus,” said the 56-year-old.
Joint overnight leader John Lower (WollatonPark) posted an eight-over-par 78 to slip to a share of 12th.
The best score of the day belonged to Royal North Devon’s Ian Parker who carded a second successive level par 70.