Peter Lonard has finished third at the Senior Open Championship in Wales, just two weeks after becoming eligible to play the Senior Tour.
The New South Welshman closed out the championship at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club with an even par 71, to be three strokes behind the winner, Germany’s Bernhard Langer.
Lonard, who celebrated his 50th birthday on July 17, was rock solid in his senior tour debut but he said he needs further work on his putting after missing several short putts – including a four-footer for birdie at the final hole, which would have elevated him into a share of second place with American Corey Pavin. Instead he shared third place with Pavin’s countrymen Fred Couples and Bill Andrade.
“Good to be in the mix finally,” Lonard said. “It's been a while. I felt good out there. I probably missed a few putts early on and then of course I missed that shot on the last, which isn't going to make that dinner taste very nice tonight. That's the way it goes.
“I missed a couple of real short putts on 4, 5 and 6. Hit really good shots in there and just misread them. Felt I was never going to hole one and then all of a sudden I holed a 30-, 40-footer, whatever. They spark you up and get you more interested again and you're back in the game.”
Lonard said he went into the tournament with high expectations simply because of his love for links golf.
“I was really looking forward to coming over here. The Open Championship was always one of my favourite tournaments. I think the last one I played in was Hoylake in 2008 maybe,” he said.
“I just love the way you have so many ways to play the game. You can hit it on the ground and you can flop it around the greens. There's so many shots, different ways to do the same thing.
“It's great, imaginative golf and I was really looking forward to coming here. I thought my game was pretty good. I was probably a little short on the punch shots. I haven't hit them for so long, I was definitely a bit rusty with them as far as control goes, but it was great to be out here.”
Langer’s win makes him the most successful golfer in senior major championship history. He added to his 2010 and 2014 Senior Open titles and now has 10 senior majors to his name, surpassing the great Gary Player. The German now joins Player and Tom Watson as three-time winners of the Senior Claret Jug.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to have won here again,” said Langer. “There might have been a little extra pressure, just knowing that I won here by 13 a few years ago. I hit my first tee shot straight into a gorse bush on the left and it was unplayable so, looking back now, it ended a lot better than it started.
“It didn’t look very premising early on. But, despite my first tee shot and my sickness, I actually had a very good first round and had the lead of the Championship, and I think that was the key. I led from the very beginning. I led on Thursday, I was co-leader Friday and then jumped into the lead with a 65 yesterday and never surrendered.
“We know what great players Tom Watson and Gary Player are, especially as Tom has maybe the best links course record of anybody. He’s one of the best wind players that I’ve seen, maybe the best; and we all know what Gary has achieved in his career. I’m very honoured to be mentioned with those two.”
Victoria’s David Mckenzie fired a closing round 69, which included a hole-in-one, to grab a share of ninth place, while Peter Fowler was the next best of the Aussies in a tie for 15th at six over.