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Peter Senior, 53, wins Australian Open

By AAP .
9 December 2012 08:27PM EST

PETER Senior has held his nerve in "near impossible" conditions to become the oldest Australian Open golf champion.

The 53-year-old overcame galeforce winds and a three-hour delay at the windswept Lakes course in Sydney to post a dogged final-round even-par 72 to win the Stonehaven Cup by a shot from a valiant Brendan Jones (71).

Cameron Percy (73) finished third a further shot back.

Senior tallied four-under for the tournament after rounds of 75-68-69-72.

The Queenslander's second Open victory on a drama-charged afternoon comes after his first as a 30-year-old back in 1989.

The previous oldest Open winner was the legendary Peter Thomson at 43 at Kooyonga in 1972.

"I can't believe how many people stuck it out. I would have been at home in bed by now," a beaming Senior said after the tournament finished in near darkness.

As virtually the entire field went backwards in winds gusting up to 80kph, Senior dropped just two shots all day - at the fifth and seventh holes - but birdies on the par-4 10th and 12th holes proved priceless.

While Senior took the spoils, Jones was heroic in almost snatching victory with a spectacular finish.

Contesting his first national championship in four years, the Japan-based Jones nearly overcame a 12-shot deficit early in his round after going five under through his last 13 holes.

Featuring a brilliant eagle on the par-5 17th, Jones eventually closed with a 71 to finish with a 72-hole hole total of three-under 275.

While some players argued about the suspension, Open boss Trevor Herden said officials had no alternative but to halt proceedings just before noon when fierce winds knocked down a television tower near the 18th green.

The southerly change also caused scoreboards to topple over, balls to move on the fairways and greens and sand to be blown from bunkers and into the galleries.

Herden said player and spectator safety was paramount.

"Obviously there's nothing we can do to protect anybody other than to get them out of danger," he said.

"We have an obligation to the public and the players and then there's the golf course, which at that point became unplayable.

"We were managing very, very well through the 60km (wind) zone but once we got to 80, we all know that no golf course can defend 80-kilometre winds.

"We had to suspend play."

Herden agreed conditions were "brutal", but defending champion Greg Chalmers claimed they were even tougher than that.

"Borderline impossible at certain points," Chalmers said after closing with a 77 to tie 23rd.

"It was just one of the most difficult days that I've played in a long time."

Third-round leader John Senden, who also led into Sunday last year only to come up short, had a shocker, capitulating with a final-round 83 to be joint 18th.

LEADERBOARD

-4: Peter Senior (AUS) 18 holes
-3: Brendan Jones (AUS) 18 holes
-2: Cameron Percy (AUS) 18 holes
-1: Kieran Pratt (AUS) 18 holes, Justin Rose (ENG) 18 holes, Kim Felton (AUS) 18 holes
E: Stuart Appleby (AUS) 18 holes, Scott Gardiner (AUS) 18 holes, Michael Hendry (NZL) 18 holes
+1: Brett Rumford (AUS) 18 holes, Nick O'Hern (AUS) 18 holes, Matthew Jones (AUS) 18 holes, Rod Pampling (AUS) 18 holes

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