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It was a dramatic day on the Legend Course as the destination of the title and the John Jacobs award as the MCB Road to Mauritius number one came down to the very last hole of the 2023 Legends Tour season, with Baker producing a magnificent second shot into the par-5 closing hole to set up the winning birdie.
The former Ryder Cup player and Adilson da Silva started the day tied one off the lead and both had a chance to win and top the MCB Road to Mauritius. With so much on the line, and a host of other players in contention for the tournament, it took a brilliant final surge of four birdies in the last six holes for Baker to get over the line.
Three rounds of 67 and a winning total of -15 was enough for Baker to earn his fourth title of the year – joining the Irish Legends, JCB Championship and Staysure PGA Seniors Championship in his trophy cabinet.
“I hit a good drive on 18 and I saw Patrik miss a putt on the green that I thought was probably for birdie. I knew we were tied so I thought it was birdie to win the tournament. We play to win tournaments and I’ve probably never hit a better five-wood than that, it was all over it. I’m really pleased with that shot.”
Baker had lent on good friend and former Masters champion Ian Woosnam throughout the year: “He’s really supported me and we talk a lot. He’s blunt, as you can imagine, which is great, that’s how we are. He’s really encouraged me throughout the year. I had a lot of help from Michael Welch at home in Shropshire, as well. You need that support. It’s a tough game, so I’m very appreciate of all the help I’ve had.”
Da Silva had forced the race right down to the wire by winning his four event of the season at last week’s Vinpearl DIC Legends Vietnam, and he was one ahead of Baker and just one off the lead through 12 holes. He circled another red number at 13 but it was all pars from there. He could have forced a play-off by eagling the last, but he was just short of the green in two and had to settle for a par and a tied-4th finish.
Patrik Sjoland was leading for much of the back nine thanks to playing the first 13 holes in -5. He traded a bogey at 15 with a birdie at 17, but a par on 18 left him one shy of a play-off in a tied for 2nd. That finish was enough for the Farmfoods European Senior Masters winner to overtake Greig Hutcheon and finish 5th in the MCB Road to Mauritius to secure the Barry Lane Rookie of the Year award.
He was presented with the award by Camilla Lane: “It feels fantastic. It’s really special, especially with a name like Barry’s as well, it makes it even more special. I almost got a couple of tears walking up to receive the trophy. It was my goal to come here this week and try to pass Greig, because it means a lot to me.
“It’s been one of my best golfing years. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, especially off the course. It’s been a fantastic year, and I couldn’t even have imagined this when I started in May.”
Peter Fowler shared 2nd place on -14. The 64-year-old Australian was the second oldest player in the field, but he put together an impressive performance with a birdie-birdie finish giving him a 68.
Jean-Francois Remesy came flying through the field with a 65 to finish tied-3rd with Da Silva. The Frenchman had an eagle, six birdies and one bogey to claim his best result of the season and jump to 33rd in the MCB Road to Mauritius.
Overnight co-leaders Michael Jonzon and Robert Coles both shot 71 and had to settle for tied-6th on -12. 2018 MCB Tour Championship – Mauritius winner Clark Dennis and Australia’s Jason Norris finished tied-8th and Simon Khan rounded out the top 10 on -10.
Behind Baker and Da Silva, the rest of the top-five in the MCB Road to Mauritius were James Kingston in 3rd, Ricardo Gonzalez in 4th and Sjoland in 5th. They each take a share of a $100,000 bonus pool for their efforts throughout the season.
Visit www.legendstour.com to see the full leaderboard, final MCB Road to Mauritius standings, and find out more about the MCB Tour Championship – Mauritius at Constance Belle Mare Plage.