BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.
“I know a lot more about my swing now, and I guess you get that with age and experience,” the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.
Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.
Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.
Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).
Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.
“It was really a special week,” he said. “It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well, but I didn’t seem to [be] making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine, it seemed.”
He learned that his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee, when his caddie asked a television announcer.
“So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,” he said. “If I made a 5 there, that would be fine.”
Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.
“I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,” he said. “I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last. We don’t want to three-putt and give him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.”
Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but they might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.
“In hindsight, it was all for naught,” he said. “He was so far ahead of us. Hat’s off [to] the guy. It was a great week — we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us, I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.”
Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to his leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulation numbers for the tournament, with a 1.574 average.
“I wasn’t aware I made that many birdies,” he said. “That’s pretty impressive around this course.”
He said his game has long been unpredictable.
“I’m not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it’s on, it works,” he said. “If I’m putting well, then anything can happen, really.”