SAUNTON, ENGLAND (August 11, 2006) -- Simson had a five-shot winning margin over two more Americans, John Baldwin, the 2002 champion, and Rick Woulfe, with Irishman Maurice Kelly, the leading European, in fourth place after a closing 73, the best round of the day.
“This is a wonderful thing for me,” said Simson. “I feel very fortunate to have won this at the first attempt and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But it opens many doors for me. It gets me exemption into many USGA events and also into next year’s British Seniors Open. That will probably cost me £5,000 but it will be worth it.”
Simson, 55, from North Carolina, began another windy day with a five-shot lead which was never really threatened although Woulfe gave a hint that he might be a contender when he opened with two birdies. But he couldn’t make further inroads and in the end had to settle for a share of second spot.
“That was a great start but then I ran into a whole lot of three putts,” he said. “But this week I have struck the ball as well as I have in a long time and I hope I can take it home with me.”
With no one else closing in on Simson there was never a chance that he wouldn’t be crowned champion although he was not completely happy with his game. “This was the toughest wind we’ve had all week,” he added. “I wasn’t happy with my putting because it was tough to get comfortable over the ball and I couldn‘t get the right pace.
“It was very frustrating but I suppose everyone else was experiencing the same thing. I had three three-putts which is unusual for me and only one birdie. But now I can relax. I’m off to Scotland for some salmon fishing and then we are coming back to England to play some more golf before heading home in a couple of weeks.”
With his record of 14 senior victories in his home state and play in 38 consecutive USGA tournaments, he was probably the pre-championship favourite. He certainly maintains the American grip on the event.
David Lane, who partnered Simson and carried the main British hopes, also found trouble on the greens. “That was hard work,” he said after signing for an 82. “Paul played very steady but the greens are so tricky. You must allow for the wind even when you are putting. I three-putted three times and found it very difficult.”
Kelly, 56, the General Manager at the Killeen club near Dublin, capped a fine week with his two-birdie 73 in only his second British Seniors. “That is as good a round as I have ever played,” he said. “It wasn’t easy but I enjoyed the week immensely.”
Roy Smethurst, the 2003 champion who underwent surgery only a few weeks ago, finished alongside Lane on 234 after a commendable 78. “I just fritted away a few shots but I’m happy to be back playing again,” he said.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above.