The naysayers who claim the Australian golf tour has lost its allure have been sat back on their haunches after a final day of pure sports theatre at the Masters, culminating in Peter Senior’s marvellous victory.
The curtain went up with the impressive effort of poster boy Adam Scott to overhaul the little-known leaders before he pulled up shy with a 69.
Then journeymen Matthew Millar and Andrew Evans grimly set out in the last group trying to cling to their overnight lead.
Finally, and not without drama, 56-year-old Senior clinically overhauled the field to win by two shots.
After donning his third Masters gold winner’s jacket – he won in 1991 and 1995 – Senior admitted he had become a couch potato as he rolled towards his 50s
Initially, he had neither the inclination nor the need to play golf competitively overseas again.
Yet the lures of the Champions Tour for golfers over 50 in the US and the chance for his son, Mitch, to caddie for him, were irresistible.
He started to practise again.
“I didn’t want to die wondering,” he said of his return to overseas play after a seven-year break to watch his children grow up and to help his wife, June, through their teenage years.
While a win in the US has eluded him, Senior has finished second six times in the past six years for prize money in excess of $6 million.
It has also honed his craft.
So much so that Senior is now a winner of Australia’s triple crown – Open, Masters and PGA – on two occasions, one before turning 50 and the other afterwards.
His record now demands he be hailed as one of the greats of the game in Australia.
“I am getting a bit long in the tooth now with the way those young blokes hit it so far,” he said.
“I gave myself a genuine chance to win but had hoped the wind would blow a bit more.”
It didn’t need to. Starting the day two shots from the lead, Senior posted a three-under 68 to finish eight under for the tournament with a total of 276. His first three rounds were 70, 70 and 68.
There were anxious moments – “I leaked oil a bit” – on the 17th and 18th when Senior opened the door for 29-year old NSW pre-qualifier Evans with a bogey.
But after briefly joining Senior in the lead, Evans collapsed under the weight of tournament pressure on Huntingdale’s tough closing holes.
He finished bogey, bogey and eventually had to be content with a share of second alongside American amateur Bryson DeChambeau.
Senior sealed the win with a brave two-metre par putt after finishing in a greenside bunker at the last.
Ironically he was wielding his signature broomstick putter, a club banned from next January, perhaps one reason why he only intends to play, overseas at least, for just one more season.
Equally stylish in defeat and victory, Scott paid tribute to Senior.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise,” the world number 12 said.
“He won the PGA again not that long ago. Around courses like this, anyone good enough to be in the field can win because length isn’t as big thing as accuracy is.
“He (Senior) has based his career around being accurate and precise and he’s a hell of a competitor.”
While certainly flattered, Senior is not so sure.
“I think I’ll be found out over the next couple of weeks with The Australian (Australian Open) and Royal Pines (the PGA), both courses where you need to hit it longer,” he said.
That may well be so.
But discount the chances of this genial, silver-haired, tubby little man at your peril over the next couple of weeks.
2015 Australian Masters – final leaderboard
Peter Senior -8
Bryson DeChambeau -6
John Senden -6
Andrew Evans -6
Adam Scott -4
Richard Green -3
Brett Rumford -3
Alistair Presnell -3
Matthew Guyatt -3
Michael Sim -3