Rafferty fifth as Eales claims Scottish Senior Open
 Paul Eales. Picture: Getty Images

Paul Eales. Picture: Getty Images

Ronan Rafferty ended up tied for fifth as England’s Paul Eales came from behind to claim his first victory in 22 years and  a maiden European Senior Tour title at the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open.

Eales trailed the overnight leader, former European Tour No 1  Rafferty by seven shots starting the day.

He moved to eight under par with a birdie on the second hole, but bogeyed the par three eighth hole to make the turn level par on the day and carded a final  68 to set an 11 under par target that couldn’t be matched..

The 53 year old becomes the seventh player to win on the Challenge Tour, European Tour and European Senior Tour, adding to his victories in the 1991 Audi Open and 1994 Extremadura Open.

“That is the special thing, knowing that I’d won on the Challenge Tour on the way up, on the European Tour and now here,” said Eales. “It’s extremely special and I know I’ve now joined a small band of brothers who have won on all three Tours.

“It’s special to come to Archerfield, one of my favourite places on the planet. To win a title in Scotland, the home of golf, is a privilege.”

The Englishman admitted he was unaware of his position on the leaderboard after his run of birdies, as he then found himself alongside Peter Fowler, Santiago Luna and Rafferty.

“I didn’t make many mistakes until the eighth when I missed a little tap-in, but Sharon encouraged me on the tenth tee and that became a bit of a springboard,” he said.

“It wasn’t until I made it to the 14th green when you could see that the other guys were coming back. I knew I was in amongst it then.

“I putted on 17 and saw I was tied for the lead, so I thought ‘let’s see what happens down 18’. I pulled my shot to the green a little bit in the wind but it was just a question of picking my putting line and rolling it down; it went centre-cut and was brilliant.”

Eales reserved special praise for his wife Sharon, who caddies for him on the Senior Tour, crediting her for her part in a memorable weekend on the DJ Russell-designed Fidra course.

“Without her I wouldn’t have been here,” he said. “Most players will tell you on Tour there are a lot of scars and she’s encouraged me, nursing the wounds along the way and we have a blast here.

“It’s very special, and to get some of the congratulations from my peers and fellow players was also special.”

Australian Fowler carded a final round 67 to share second place with Spaniard Luna, who shot 74.

Fowler’s compatriot Mike Harwood finished two shots behind Eales, nine under par, and former European Ryder Cup Captain Mike James shared fifth place with Rafferty (78)  and Gary Wolstenholme.

Final scores

205 P Eales (Eng) 68 69 68

206 S Luna (Esp) 67 65 74, P Fowler (Aus) 66 73 67

207 M Harwood (Aus) 67 66 74

208 M James (Eng) 67 67 74, R Rafferty (Nir) 63 67 78, G Wolstenholme (Eng) 69 68 71,

209 I Woosnam (Wal) 68 72 69, P Linhart (Esp) 69 71 69, P Wesselingh (Eng) 69 70 70,

210 J Kingston (RSA) 70 69 71

211 S Brown (Eng) 70 71 70, B Conser (USA) 75 67 69,

212  P Walton (Irl) 64 72 76

216 D Smyth (Irl) 68 73 75

217 B McGovern (Irl) 71 70 76

221 E Darcy (Irl) 74 73 74