Gary Wolstenholme is one of the best stories in British/European golf.
Arguably no player has overachieved more than the Englishman.
Wolstenholme picked up his second European Senior Tour win in two years with a victory in the Mallorca Open Senior – the first event of the new European Senior Tour season.
Not many would have predicted Wolstenholme winning twice as a professional.
The Englishman didn’t take up golf until his 20s. He was a longtime amateur who only turned professional at age 47 because the English Golf Union decided it could no longer fund him in the amateur game.
The EGU decided the money should be better targeted at younger players, so Wolstenholme had no choice really but to try his hand in the pro game.
Wolstenholme had a brilliant amateur career. He represented England more times than any other player. He won two British Amateur Championships (1991 and 2003) and played in six Walker Cups. He stood out from other elite amateurs because he always hit his second shots first.
The 51-year-old was the shortest hitter in amateur golf.
For example, when he defeated Switzerland’s Raphael de Sousa at Royal Troon in 2003, he was at times 80 yards behind his opponent. Arguably no player in the amateur game, however, hit fairway woods as well as Wolstenholme.
In fact, he was often more accurate with his fairway woods than his opponents were with their short irons.
Before his two European Senior Tour wins, Wolstenholme’s main claim to fame was defeating Tiger Woods in singles play during the 1995 Walker Cup. Woods outdrove the Englishman comfortably during their singles match, but Wolstenholme won the match when Woods went out of bounds on Royal Porthcawl’s 18th hole.
Great Britain & Ireland went on to win the Cup that year.
Given his lack of length, there were doubts about how he would fare on the European Senior Tour. As he’s done all his life, Wolstenholme didn’t take long to prove the doubters wrong.
Wolstenholme won in his second start on the senior circuit, claiming the 2010 Casa Serana Open. He was the 2011 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year, finishing fourth on the order of merit with nine top 10 finishes.
Victory in Mallorca was his second in just 28 senior tour starts. He has 12 top 10s in that stretch.
“Everything just clicked into place,” Wolstenholme said about his latest victory. “I came with no expectations so I cannot tell you how delighted I am. This is a genuine bonus.”
The same could be said about Wolstenholme’s entire career.