Stephen Dodd birdied the 72nd hole to secure a life-changing maiden Senior Major Championship in The Senior Open Presented by Rolex held at Sunningdale Golf Club.
The 55-year-old Welshman was tied with Spain’s Miguel Ángel Jiménez with one hole remaining, but played a sublime approach shot to ten feet before rolling in the birdie putt for a two under par 68 to reach 13 under par and finish one stroke clear of the Spaniard.
Dodd showed a supreme display of front-running as he headed into the final round with a two-stroke lead after tying both the course record and the lowest round in Senior Open history with an eight under par 62 on Saturday. He started the final round by birdieing the first to settle any pre-round nerves, before bouncing back from a bogey at the eighth with a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at one under par, and it was the same story coming home.
Dodd responded to his second bogey of the day at the par-three 13th with a birdie on the par-five 14th, before his closing birdie secured a memorable victory and also earn an exemption into The 150th Open at St Andrews in 2022.
Jiménez posted a five-under 65 to finish second on 12 under par, with Darren Clarke third on 11 under. Defending champion Bernhard Langer threatened to make a late charge for a fifth Senior Open triumph, but a bogey on the 17th ended his hopes as he finished fourth on nine under.
Dodd said: “I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. It’s been quite a tough day. I wasn’t playing great. So I’m sure on the drive home I’m reflect on it all and I’ll be a very happy person when I get back home later tonight. This could be the only chance I get to win, so tried my best to hole it. Thankfully for me it went in, so it was a nice way to finish for me.
“I just wanted to try and enjoy it. I said yesterday I’ve not played any competitive golf – well, one tournament in 18 or 19 months, so there’s no real competitive golf behind me, so I didn’t know what to expect this week, and even today. I didn’t play great today, but I just ground it out and made up for a few silly mistakes with a couple decent shots and some putts.
I knew exactly where I was. I like to see the scoreboards and know what I need to do. For me it focuses my mind more an what I need to do. I hit some decent shots coming down the last few holes.”