x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Roberts sees off Funk and McNulty to take senior honours

Loren Roberts wins the Senior Open Championship title after a dramatic play-off win over Mark McNulty and Fred Funk.

Loren Roberts won the Senior Open Championship title with a dramatic play-off win over Mark McNulty and Fred Funk. All three men finished with a 12-under-par aggregate of 268 at Sunningdale before Roberts, who previously won this event at Turnberry in 2006, triumphed over extra holes. After Funk failed to match McNulty and Roberts' birdies on the 18th at the first extra hole it became a two-man duel, and after another deadlock McNulty fired a wild drive into the rough and Roberts' par was enough for victory. The American had carded a final-round 67 thanks to a four-under inward 31 on the Old Course.

After a splendid approach at 17 led to the birdie which took him to 12 under, Roberts needed another at the last to win, but drove into the rough on the right and had to settle for par. Earlier Irishman McNulty's brilliant round of 64 had given him the clubhouse lead. His inward 31 included a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th but it could have been even better ? down the closing straight McNulty had birdie putts of less than 10 feet on 17 and 18 and both missed the hole by the smallest of fractions. "I really thought I hit good putts, both of them," he said. "The last one I thought was going to go in and the last one slowed down and seemed to start turning. Why, I don't know.

"I gave it all I had, and just one bad shot. That's what happens," said the Sunningdale resident. The American Funk, who had set record low 18 and 36-hole scores for the event, raced out the blocks to turn in 32, but the 53-year-old could not find the single shot he needed for the title on the back nine ? paring all his holes on the way in. "It just wasn't enough. It's disappointing because I played good," said Funk. For Greg Norman there was a familiar disappointment. Having led overnight, he collapsed to a one-over 71 and fell out of contention to a tie for sixth.

Tom Watson continued his fine form with a three-under-par 67 to finish seven under overall, enough for a share of eighth place. Fourth place went to Bernhard Langer, who completed back-to-back five-under rounds of 65 but the German, who won his two Champions Tour events coming into the tournament, came up one shot short on 11 under after a disappointing first couple of days. "When I won back in '06 it was probably the biggest thrill of my life," said Roberts. "Then to come here, to a golf course I've never seen before, absolutely fell in love with this golf course. To be able to pull it out on the back nine is the culmination of a lot of hard work. "In the play-off I felt really good, probably the best I felt all day. I just hammered it up the 18th fairway every time."

* PA Sport