Chris Williams didn’t just jettison that monkey off his back, he hurled it like a Major League fastball.
The South African claimed his first European Senior Tour title by firing a 7-under 64 in the final round of The Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters, erasing a 5-stroke deficit to overnight leader Jamnian Chitprasong.
“The first one is always the hardest,” he said. “I’ve been runner-up three times and close on a number of other occasions, so people do start to talk about it. It’s nice to get that monkey off your back.
“My last victory was in 2003, and you do wonder if you will win again. To do it against players I competed against on The European Tour – Barry Lane, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance – was extra special. I always felt like I was capable of winning, but someone would always play better than me on the last day or have a crucial putt so it’s great to finally do it.”
Williams, 51, was runner-up three times in two seasons on the European Senior Tour and was in the top 10 an eye-opening 12 times in 2010, the most of any player. He was second in the 2010 Senior Tour Order of Merit, behind Boonchu Ruagnkit, who was the defending champion in Brunei.
Williams started quickly on Sunday, picking up an eagle on No. 2 after a 310-yard approach shot to four feet. He also picked up birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 to make the turn at 35 to stay in contention.
A four-hole stretch of birdies starting on No. 12 propelled Williams to the top of the leaderboard. A bogey on No. 17 put pressure on Williams heading to the tee box on No. 18, but a perfect drive into the middle of the fairway and subsequent birdie gave Williams a one-shot win over Korea’s Sang-ho Choi. Australian and 2009 Rookie of the Year Mike Harwood finished in third at 10 under.
“I used a lot of visualization today, seeing the putts going in,” said Williams, who pocketed €34,690 with the win. “When I missed the short one on the fourth, I went back in my mind and holed it. Whereas in other tournaments people have played better than me to win, I just played better today.
“I thought I was going to have to shoot low today and I’m delighted to have done it.”
Williams’ victory moves him behind Sandy Lyle and Peter Senior for the 2011 Order of Merit.
“Winning a tournament was definitely my target at the start of the season, but the Order of Merit was, too,” said Williams. “Barry Lane is going to be a strong challenger, and I think he’ll win a few this season, and Sandy Is going to play more so it will be tough. You can’t take your foot off the pedal at all so it was good to get a win under my belt.”
Chitprasong failed to continue the momentum he built over the first two rounds. A closing hole double-bogey six condemned his challenge as he carded a 73 to finish fourth, four strokes behind Williams.
Defending champion Ruangkit finished T-11 after a final-round 69.