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Davis shines brightest among golden oldies

The painter and decorator is still a dab hand with the strokes.

It is the golf clubs Mark Davis is swooshing away with rather than the brushes these days but the gloss finish remains. A birdie on the last hole of the Torrance Course put the tin lid on a five-shot victory in the SSE Scottish Senior Open at blustery Fairmont St Andrews as the Englishman claimed his maiden title on the over-50s circuit.

On a final day that was windier than the keynote speech at a baked beans conference, Davis harnessed the rigorous conditions to fine effect and a battling one-under 71 gave him a five-under aggregate of 211. In just his third event among the golden oldies, the new boy is a tour champion.

He has enjoyed European success before, mind you. Davis won the Austrian Open twice in the early 1990s but a painful altercation with a tree root during the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles in 2000 led to a damaging injury and he dropped off the main circuit two years later.

"Since then I've been doing all sorts of things to keep the head above water and it was mainly painting and decorating," said the 50-year-old, after earning almost £38,000 for his win over joint runners-up, DJ Russell, Philip Golding, Pedro Linhart and Cesar Monasterio.

"I've not played a lot of golf in recent years, to be honest, so to win in just my third Senior Tour event is pretty surprising. The feeling of winning is still the same as it was back in the '90s."

If ever a leaderboard illustrated the changing conditions of golf beside the sea then it was this one. On Friday, there was not a breath of wind and, in a field of 72 entrants, 40 players, led by Monasterio with a shimmering 11-under 61, dipped below par. Over the past two days though, the gusts whipped up and the defences were fortified. Only 18 players were under par by the end of round two. By the conclusion of the championship yesterday, it was only Davis who was in red figures.

"It's been extremely tough," added Davis, who won the Brabazon Trophy as an amateur 20 years ago and has played in seven Open Championships down the seasons. "I didn't actually look at a leaderboard until I was on the 16th and I was a bit surprised I had such a big lead."

There were dangers at every turn and three of the four players who shared second stumbled with a double-bogey or worse on the back nine, while Davis held it all together.

Gordon Manson may now have Austrian citizenship but the St Andrews-born veteran was happy to take the honours as the leading Scot in a share of sixth on 217.

"I'm still a Fifer, so that counts," he said with a smile after enjoying another profitable homecoming in the inspiring surrounds of St Andrews. "With no wind on Friday it was almost spooky. You knew it would come and it did. It was a test but how can you not play well when you're looking on the old town?"

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