Monday, September 21, 2009

Mitchell triumphs in the Casa Serena Open

For a man more used to ensuring other people’s games are in good shape, Peter Mitchell proved his own golf was very much up to scratch too with a superb victory in the Casa Serena Open in the Czech Republic. The 51 year old Englishman, who finished fifth last year, carded a final round 66 at Casa Serena Golf near Prague to claim his first European Senior Tour title of the 2009 season, his 13 under par aggregate of 200 good enough for a three shot victory over fellow Englishman Glenn Ralph and Peter Senior of Australia with Welshman Ian Woosnam fourth, a further shot in arrears. “To win anywhere in the world is special but perhaps here means that little bit more not least for what happened last year but also because I love this place,” said Mitchell. “It is just beautiful round here and would be somewhere you would enjoy just walking round even if you weren’t playing golf. “Last year I nearly had my hands on the trophy but it just slipped away because I could not hole a putt in the final round to save my life. But I put that right today and perhaps, just perhaps, it owed me one. “This, however, is a real turn around for me,” added the Londoner who moved from 48th on the Order of Merit at the start of the week to fifth. “I actually thought this would be the last tournament of the season because I had been playing so poorly I didn’t want to put myself through it anymore. “But I got a bit of a putting lesson from my old friend Doug Johnson in my last tournament at Woburn and that seems to have made a difference so I guess I owe him a bit of thanks for this and definitely a beer at least.” Mitchell enjoyed a sensational rookie season on the over 50s circuit in 2008 with three victories in total on his way to finishing third on the Order of Merit. But this year his time has been largely spent away from the golf course, concentrating on developing a range of Golf Academies across England and Europe. But with the framework for those now in place, the Englishman admitted that he can look forward to a full playing schedule in 2010. If that is the case, his competitors need to take heed as he proved, with a fine three round display in the Czech Republic, that he more than possesses the armoury to be a force on the European Senior Tour. In this event last season, Mitchell began in a share of the final round lead before falling away but he made sure there was no chance of history repeating itself with a blistering start this time round, birdieing the first three holes as well as the sixth and ninth to stamp his authority on proceedings with an outward half of 31. Senior, leader after the first and second rounds, failed to ignite his challenge on the front nine but turned up the heat turning for home with three birdies in four holes from the 12th. But a bogey four at the 17th put paid to the Australian’s chances and he had to settle for a 70 and a ten under par total of 203 to tie the fast finishing Englishman Glenn Ralph, who carded an excellent six under par 65. Fourth placed Woosnam produced his usual gritty challenge but his failure to get to grips with the Casa Serena putting surfaces put paid to his chances. “I just couldn’t get the pace which meant that I was even uncertain about two putting for par from 30 feet,” he said. The consolation for Woosnam is that his €33,000 cheque moved him back to the top of the Order of Merit with €161,619 and now in with an excellent chance of regaining the John Jacobs Trophy he won for topping the rankings in his rookie year last season. Woosnam is now some €22,129 ahead of second placed Sam Torrance, who could only finish in a share of 24th place. Ralph, thanks to his fine effort has moved into the picture in third place while Mitchell is now very much in the frame with €122,087, only just under €40,000 behind Woosnam. But, with almost €100,000 on offer in total for the winners of the last two tournaments on the European Senior Tour season – the Benahavis Senior Masters and the OKI Castellon Senior Tour Championship – it is still all to play for in one of the most exciting races for the John Jacobs Trophy in recent years. One man who will not be in the mix, however, is Germany’s Bernhard Langer. The defending champion had an afternoon to forget, his final round 70 consigning him to a share of fifth place, five shots adrift of Mitchell. “It was disappointing because I think 13 under par was a total that was well within my grasp this week,” he said. “But I just had something each day which wasn’t right with my game, whether it be the putting or my swing, and that cost me in the end.”

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