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James Kingston, winner of this event the last time it was held at San Domenico in 2021, started the day seven shots adrift of the lead. However, the South African has been in buoyant mood all week – returning to the site of his win.
He started in superb fashion, making a birdie then an eagle at the opening two holes. He would find the water hazard at the 5th hole and make a bogey but this would only galvanise his charge and see a relentless run of golf follow.
Eight birdies in his next ten holes, including four in a row from the 6th to the 10th would propel him rapidly up the leader board. Further birdies would go on the card at 12, 14 and 15 before he finished in style – making birdie at the last to reach -16 and celebrated with a fist pump.
“Sometimes starting out the day you have no idea what is going to happen. I warmed up like I warmed up any other day, felt like I hit it nicely, putted nicely but then sometimes things just click and I think I just felt what Peter Baker normally feels like when you hole a few putts. Made a few putts, made some great shots, kept the ball in play, made some really crucial putts when I needed to.”
On that incredible run of birdies in the middle of his round, Kingston said: “Yeah, it was special. I tried to just look at the scorecard and every time I made a birdie I put a circle around it – then I tried to not count them! I tried to stay in the present and focus on the shot at hand.
“I would say it was pretty much up there as one of my best rounds, I hit some really good shots, even when it wasn’t close it was either at the flag or pin high, some really quality shots – I drove the ball extremely well today but hit a few really good iron shots and then to make 61 you’ve got to make those putts and today I did that!
A memory from his victory here two years ago helped him seal the win this time too, as he stood over his birdie putt at the last hole: “I got up to the green and saw that the ball had spun back 6 or 7 feet, that uncomfortable distance, but it’s funny I remembered something from two years ago when Joakim Haeggman came from almost that line and his ball didn’t break left to right – that actually helped me knowing it was reasonably straight. It went in and knowing that putt was to really top off the round and give myself a chance – it was awesome to hole that.
I didn’t expect to shoot 61 and to challenge for the win but I knew you could shoot a good round from like 66 or 65, but 61 doesn’t happen every day and when it does it is nice!
I think I should look for a bit of land around here – it’s my happy place!”
A three-time winner already this season, Peter Baker came into the final round with a two-shot lead. Two under par through his first four holes and things were looking good. However, he would have to endure a frustrating run of eight consecutive pars after that. A day where decent scores were being made but he just couldn’t seem to get things going like he had in the opening two days. He would sign for a 3-under par round of 69, having missed a birdie putt at the last to end on -15.
Keith Horne started off well in the final group, with a run of three birdies in five holes before the turn to push him right into contention. But, like Baker, he would struggle to make a score on the back nine and would end with a 68 to reach -14 for the week.
There were plenty of birdies, eight of them, in a round of 65 from Adilson Da Silva. The Brazilian who is another three-time winner this season, is trying to chase down Baker in the MCB Road to Mauritius rankings and would finish alongside him here in Italy on -15.
“I was thinking you have to go big or go home there is no point in laying up now and he’s playing so well he’s not backing off, so I just felt like I needed to play better.”
Next stop for the Legends Tour is La Manga in Spain for the Farm Foods European Senior Masters next week, the final event of the season in Europe.