BERKSHIRE’S Barry Lane became the first winner of the MCB Tour Championship – Madagascar at International Golf Club Du Rova – his second Staysure Tour victory of the season.
The 1993 Ryder Cup player shot a final two under-par 69 as he came from four shots back at the start of play to clinch his eighth victory on the over 50s circuit.
It was his second title of the year, having won the Senior Italian Open in June.
Overnight leader Clark Dennis could not follow his impressive bogey-free second round of 65, as Lane seized the opportunity to win the first stage of the three-legged final MCB Tour Championship series by one stroke.
The 59-year-old made a steady start to his final round with six successive pars before his first birdie of the day came at the par three seventh.
Lane made the turn at level par after dropping a shot on the ninth, but regained his focus on the back nine as he returned to the clubhouse bogey free to post three-under par for 54 holes.
Dennis, playing in the same group as Lane, had trouble on the home stretch as the American dropped six shots in seven holes, eventually finishing in share of fourth place.
The American was going in search of his sixth Staysure Tour title, and second win of the year after victory in the Winstongolf Senior Open, in Germany, in July.
But five-time European Tour winner Lane picked up shots at the 13th and 15th to move into the lead.
With the clubhouse target having been set at two-under by Spaniard Juan Quiros and Frenchman Jean-François Remesy, Lane knew a par on the final hole would seal a memorable victory on a course which tested the players’ patience to the utmost.
His four meant he became the maiden winner of the first European Tour-sanctioned event in Madagascar, the largest island in the Indian Ocean.
“It feels amazing,” said Barry Lane. “I knew I was one ahead coming down 18 and I still tried to hole the birdie putt, but I knew I could two-putt to win, which is always nice.
“I got off to a slow start, but putted beautifully on the first four holes and then started to play quite nicely.
“But I hung in there. Clark had a nightmare on the 15th and that changed things. This game changes so quickly and that’s the nature of it.
“This week was all about mental ability. Whatever happened you had to accept it and try and do the best you could.
“Mentally, I thought I was amazing this week, because not once in 54 holes did I get annoyed or upset with any shot. I just played and got on with it.
“It’s such a difficult golf course because it’s quite bouncy and if you miss the greens it is so difficult to get up and down.
“During the week I didn’t feel like I was flushing it, but I tried to hit every fairway and every green to give myself a chance.
“It’s great that at 59 years old I am still winning, having won the Senior Italian Open earlier in the year when I was 58.
“I’m very happy to win at 59 and may it continue for another few years,” Lane added.
Quiros and Remesy finished in a share of second place, following their final rounds of 69.
Dennis, meanwhile, carded a round of 75 to join Wales’ Stephen Dodd and Sussex’s first round leader Gary Evans in fourth, two strokes behind Lane.
Home favourite Jean Baptiste Ramarozatovo, who was cheered on by the home crowd, recorded a round of 69 to take a share of seventh.
The three-time winner of the Madagascan Open in the late 1990s finished alongside Argentinian Mauricio Molina, Kent’s Peter Wilson and South African duo James Kingston and Chris Williams on level-par.
Lane now in contention for No. 1
THE 675 Order of Merit points won by Lane leaves the Englishman in with a real chance of claiming the John Jacobs Trophy and being crowned the European Seniors No. 1 for a first time.
With two events to go in the Seychelles and Mauritius, Barry Lane is third on the Staysure Tour Order of Merit, with Wales’ Phillip Price, who finished 18th in Madagascar, on 2,377 points, with Lancashire’s David Shacklady in second 2,033.5 points.
This week’s MCB Tour Championship – Seychelles gets under way on Thursday this week, instead of the traditional Friday start.
•For final scores from the MCB Tour Championship – Madagascar click here.