Hawke's Bay golfer Stuart Duff has retained his New Zealand Men's Senior Open title by four shots today, the same margin he won it by last year.
"This year it was a lot closer. It was a bit touch and go today and I was a bit lucky as we were all square with three holes to go," Duff recalled after a one under par 71 on his home course, Bridge Pa, at the Hastings Golf Club.
"It was a great thrill to do it on the home track. There were people all over the course and to have all that support was tremendous," the Lindisfarne College teacher explained.
A former Central Districts cricketer who plays off a plus two handicap, Duff, 56, finished four shots ahead of Michael Barltrop of Auckland's Royal Golf Club who shot a 72 today.
"Birdies on the 10th and 17th were the keys today. Michael had bogeys on both," Duff added before heading off to receive the silverware.
This was the seventh time Duff had played in the tournament and with a second consecutive title Duff should retain his place in the New Zealand Seniors team. Late last year he played for the team when they finished second by one shot to hosts Japan at the Asia Pacific tournament.
With a par 72 round on Friday and one under par round on Saturday Duff took a three shot lead over Barltrop in to today's round. Barltrop had rounds of 73 on Friday and Saturday.
Duff's coach, Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle received almost as many congratulatory handshakes as the winner himself.
"I don't think people realise the enormity of the win and how hard it was with the home crowd expectations and being the defending champion," Doyle explained.
"Stuart played smart golf today. He hit the middle of the greens most of the time and while he had a couple of wobbles on 12 and 13 he came home strong. He's a dedicated golfer and he got the reward," Doyle added.
The tournament involved 176 players after 36 of the original 215 entries were balloted out.