NZ Open: Finch wins, Charles steals show

Updated: 03 December 2007 14:28 IST

England's Richard Finch won the New Zealand Open by three shots on Sunday, his first professional victory, but had to share the spotlight with Charles.

NZ Open: Finch wins, Charles steals show

Queenstown:

England's Richard Finch won the New Zealand Open by three shots on Sunday, his first professional victory, but had to share the spotlight with a man 41 years older.

New Zealander Bob Charles, who tournament officials said became the oldest man at 71 to make the cut on a major non-seniors tour, shot his age or better for the third straight day to finish at four under par and in a tie for 23rd place.

Charles added a 70 Sunday to rounds of 75, 68 and 71 to finish 10 shots behind Finch but ahead of players such as Sweden's Daniel Chopra, who was a winner on the US PGA tour three weeks ago.

Finch, 30, who started the day 14 under par and with a three-shot lead over Australian Steve Bowditch, shot a final-round even-par 72 for a four-round total of 274.

Finch stumbled only slightly on the way to his breakthrough win, bogeying the 12th and 14th holes before recovering to birdie 15 - the easiest hole on the course - and to save par at the par-3 16th - the toughest - and again on 18 when his approach was wide of the green and nearly into the spectator stands.

"Going into today, I felt it was in my hands and if I played well, played as I had been all week, this would be the outcome," Finch said.

"I stumbled a bit on the back nine when I started thinking too much about what I was doing. It's the first time I've been in this position and it was difficult to know how to do it."

Australians Paul Sheehan (69) and Bowditch (72) tied for second at 11 under. Sweden's Alexander Noren and Australian Craig Parry both shot 66, equal best rounds of the day, to be among a four-way tie for fourth.

Spectators watched enthralled Sunday as Charles played four rounds which recalled his glory days and left him the third-best placed New Zealander in the 100th edition of a tournament he first won as an amateur in 1954.

Charles - who was knighted in 1999 - was the first left-hander to win a major tournament when he won the 1963 British Open and recorded the last of his 66 professional wins, outside the seniors tour, in the Tallahassee Open in 1983.

"I didn't want to come here and embarrass myself," Charles said earlier this week. "The old adrenaline starts to flow with the competition and I almost felt 30 years younger."

Charles won six times on the US PGA Tour, eight times in Australia and had 16 other tour victories before winning 23 times on US Seniors Tour between 1987 and 1996.

Topics : Golf
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