Thursday, May 30, 2024

Baker comes through playoff to win at Barbados Legends – Irish Golfer Magazine

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It was a dramatic final day at Apes Hill for the conclusion of the Barbados Legends hosted by Ian Woosnam. The opening event of the Legends Tour’s 2024 season was not short of movement on the leaderboard and 54 holes wasn’t enough to find a winner either.

While Ireland’s David Higgins (T41 on +6) and Gary Murphy (T54 on +11) didn’t make an impact at the head of proceedings and it was England’s Peter Baker who emerged the winner, Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg made it very interesting for a time with the round of the day and a new course record 65.

Lindberg birdied two of the first three holes and then made five more in a run of six holes around the turn from the 7th to 12th as he moved, at that stage, into a share of the lead. A couple of dropped shots on the way back after that dented his challenge though and he would end the week at -8.

That would be the same score at the event’s conclusion for the 2003 PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel. The American made 68, 67 and then a Sunday 70 which featured three birdies and two bogeys, as he came up a couple of shots shy of his playing partners in the final three-ball.

“I’m pretty disappointed – I mean, I didn’t putt well. I missed three putts from probably ten feet and I three-putted number nine from twenty feet for par. I hit it well, made a kind of a silly bogey on 16.

“There were a number of shots that I had that were kind of in between clubs and I made good decisions there – I didn’t get ahead of myself.

“It was nice to play in the last group, it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. So, it was always going to be tough to beat Scott Hend – he’s a young man, he’s only 50. And Peter’s obviously played very well and has continued to do that today.

“I want to play more tournament golf, you know, I’ve got a couple of events – I got the PGA, the Senior PGA coming up and I’ve got U.S Senior Open qualifier.

“I handled the pressure pretty well – it’s been a long time since I won in 2003. I was thinking about that today, you know, it doesn’t matter what tour you’re playing on – if you haven’t won, it’s hard, it’s hard to win.

“However, it’s a lot more fun than teeing off first group and just trying to play 18 holes to get finished. I was playing for money, playing for points, playing for ranking and playing for other opportunities. There’s a lot of things I’m playing for and I’m playing for pride.

“I’m playing to try to prove to myself that I can win again. I think in the end, maybe the pressure got to me a little bit and maybe that’s what affected my putting a little bit.”

Scott Hend recorded a 68 and a 66 at Apes Hill through the opening two rounds and he would go toe-to-toe with Peter Baker throughout the final day.

Two-under-par to the turn, he was level with the man who has been the form player on the Legends Tour over the past year.

However, a bogey at the 10th and a double bogey five on the 16th after finding the water – left him a tough task.

Baker had come into the final day after back-to-back rounds of 67 through the first two days. His final round would see him get to the turn in two under-par and be level for his back nine up until the 18th tee where he would hold a one shot lead over Hend.

Baker’s tee shot at the 18th found the fairway bunker and he missed the fairway with his next shot, before three-putting the final green for par. This while Hend made the edge of the green in two and then two putted to get into the clubhouse with a round of 69 – just as Baker did – both on ten under-par.

A play-off followed, down the 9th hole – Baker making par while Hend could only make bogey, ensuring that the man who won four times last season and claimed the MCB Road to Mauritius title – started 2024 in the same manner and layed down a gauntlet for the rest nd leving Baker delighted: “Absolutely brilliant! It was a really tough day for us and it went right down to the wire, If I’m honest, I didn’t really think I was going to win. It was a funny day of just try to hang in there. I didn’t really have all my game with me, but I just tried to not make too many mistakes.

“I just got it a bit right down the 18th. It was a good par to make, but everything was difficult today, so I’m really delighted.

“I knew it was really tight and I just felt that it was going to go down all the way to the wire all day. Whether it would be Shaun, Scott or myself, it was just either a good shot here or a bad shot that might make the difference.

“I just thought if I can get a good few days and try to play some good golf, if I can get a chance last day to win then even better. I had a lot of support all the way around – it’s great that they supported me, I’m very grateful for that.”

For Hend itt was a disappointing end to his week. He won the WINSTONgolf Senior Open last year in his first appearance on the Legends Tour and was also runner-up in the Vinpearl DIC Vietnam Legends, but he’s frustrated not to be leaving Barbados with the trophy: “Not many positives to take from this after not winning really, but I played nicely. I let myself down in a couple of holes. Peter played solid golf and then, unfortunately, I missed a short par on the playoff hole. That’s just golf!”

The prize presentation, on Apes Hill’s 19th green (a fun island green par 3 the members use for deciding tied matches), saw the tournament host Ian Woosnam give his good friend the trophy as well as his prize for winning the MCB Road to Mauritius – a personally engraved Rolex watch.

Formerly known as the European Senior Tour and the Staysure Tour, the Legends Tour is the men’s professional golf tour for members aged 50 and older. n 2024, the Legends Tour began new ambassador partnerships with former Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie and the OFX Irish Legends takes place at Seapoint Golf Club in June. For more information and scores CLICK HERE 

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