Steve Sansome closed with a stunning birdie to see off the challenge from Warren Bladon and win the English Senior Men’s County Champion of Champions title by a single shot.
The 55-year-old from Leicestershire and Rutland carded two rounds of 71 around the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa Golf Club to finish on a total of four under par – just enough to edge out Bladon, the former R&A Amateur Champion from Warwickshire.
Sansome – from Birstall Golf Club – is in his first year on the senior circuit after representing his county at every age level since starting out as a junior county player in 1981.
But the 55-year-old insisted the taste of victory is just as sweet as a senior as it was when he first picked up a club as a youngster.
He said: “It’s always difficult to get over the winning line and every time you do it you still get the same buzz each time you do it.
“It’s the competition that makes you want to come back and get better. You still want to improve even as old as I am.
“It’s a great feeling.”
Sansome held a two-shot lead over Bladon following Saturday’s opening round in flat calm and near perfect conditions.
However, by the fourth hole of today’s round the duo – playing together in the final group – were level on one under par.
The momentum seemed to have shifted to Bladon (pictured below) who edged ahead by a shot after a birdie on 10.
Sansome snatched back the initiative with three birdies in a row from the 12th only to drop a shot at 16.
As they headed up the par five 18th hole, Sansome held a one-shot advantage.
But an errant tee shot from Sansome found a bunker and gave Bladon a chance of sneaking up on the rails.
Sansome explained: “I asked for clarification coming down the last and I was one ahead playing 18.
“Warren played two great shots to 15 feet and I was in a trap, splashed it out and hit an eight iron to about six feet.
“I knew the situation then – if Warren holed for eagle I had to hole for a play-off. If he missed, I still had to hole mine otherwise it was a sudden death play-off.
“Luckily for me he missed and I luckily holed mine, so all good.
“It was a good eight iron, but I still think you have to hole the putt. The putt was better than the eight iron in the situation.”
Over the years Sansome has won individual county titles as well as the English Mid Amateur for the Logan Trophy and helped Birstall win the English Champion Club.
Now he’s eyeing more success on the senior circuit.
Sansome added: “It’s my first year as a senior and a great honour and hopefully it may get me through to other things in the future.
“It’s such a great course to come and play at and I really enjoyed it.”
Lancashire’s Garry Lacy finished in third place behind Sansome and Bladon on a total of two-over par.