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The former Ryder Cup player was the 36-hole leader and he became champion without hitting another shot after the final round was unfortunately cancelled, with heavy rain from Storm Antoni rendering the course unplayable despite the best efforts of the brilliant greens staff.
Baker shot two rounds of 69 for a -6 total and a one-stroke victory. He secured his second title of the season with a brilliant birdie at the par-3 9th, his final hole in the second round, proving to be the winning moment. He teed off on the 10th hole and started quickly with three red numbers in the first six holes. A bogey on 18 took him back to -5, and he balanced a pair of birdies with a pair of bogeys on his inward half before his spectacular final hole.
The 55-year-old is enjoying a fantastic season, having already won the Irish Legends by seven shots, and finishing tied-3rd at the Jersey Legends and 5th at the Swiss Seniors Open. His second trophy of 2023 takes him to 2nd in the MCB Road to Mauritius, the Legends Tour’s season-long ranking.
“It’s amazing,” said Baker. “I thought we were going to play, and I had to make myself think we were going to play, even though the weather’s been against us. It’s incredible. It’s not one of those things that usually happens to you – it’s called off and you win.
“The greens were really quick and in brilliant condition. You had to get the pace right. It was difficult for all of us, but I managed to get that pace right many times and I putted lovely and hit some really nice iron shots.”
There are a few players who will be wondering what might have been after dropping shots late in their second rounds. Three-time major winner Vijay Singh came second on -5. He was -6 for the day and -7 for the tournament after 13 holes of round two, but two bogeys in his final five holes saw him slip back to the runner-up position.
Ernie Els held the lead for much of day two after an eagle at 3 and back-to-back birdies on 6 and 7, but he dropped three shots on the back nine to finish tied-3rd alongside Steven Alker on -4. The Kiwi, who has six Champions Tour wins including last year’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, climbed the leaderboard with a 69 that included birdies at all four par-5s, but he did bogey 18. Jeev Milkha Singh was also left to rue a poor finish on the final hole as his double bogey on 18 resulted in a 72 and solo 5th on -3.
Defending champion and last week’s Senior Open winner Alex Cejka finished alongside 2002 Ryder Cup player Niclas Fast in tied-6th, and tournament host Darren Clarke and eight-time DP World Tour number one Colin Montgomerie were part of an eight-player tie for 8th on -1.
You can watch highlights of the JCB Championship on Sky Sports Golf at midnight tonight (Saturday 5th August) and 11am tomorrow (Sunday 6th August). The show will also be available on the Legends Tour YouTube channel.
Visit www.legendstour.com for the full final leaderboard, MCB Road to Mauritius standings and more information about the Legends Tour schedule. The next event is The Legends Tour Trophy hosted by Simon Khan at Hanbury Manor Marriot Hotel and Country Club, England, on August 12th-14th.