England’s Peter Baker won the season-ending MCB Tour Championship on the Legends Tour on Sunday, wrapping up the 2023 Road to Mauritius Order of Merit in the process. GRANT WINTER reports from Mauritius.
Baker then paid tribute to South Africa’s adopted son, Brazil-born Adilson Da Silva, who finished second in the money race for the second year running.
“Me and Adilson have been neck-and-neck all year and it’s been an unbelievable contest between the two of us for Order of Merit honours,” said the 56-year-old Baker. “We’ve both won four events this year – this one here in Mauritius being my fourth.
“What a player, what a competitor Adilson is. He’s such a great guy too and I almost wish we could have shared Order of Merit honours.
“He won in Vietnam the week before this week to keep the race alive and all credit to him for that, but today turned out to be my day.”
Baker was referring to his closing five-under-par 67 on the Legend course at Constance Belle Mare Plage which saw him lift the title with a 54-hole aggregate of 15-under 201.
Australia’s Peter Fowler, after a 68, and senior Tour rookie Patrik Sjoland (67) from Sweden shared second place a shot further back with Da Silva (69) and France’s Jean-Francois Remesy (65) sharing fourth place on 203, two off the pace.
“I couldn’t buy a putt today,” said a deeply disappointed Da Silva who hit the ball beautifully from tee to green but shaved the hole time and again with birdie attempts that refused to drop.
At the closing hole, the par-five 18th, Baker, after a fine drive down the middle, hit what he described as “the best five-wood of my career” to a couple of metres from the pin while Da Silva found the edge of the green with his approach and, in an attempt to make eagle and possible get into a playoff, ran his first putt too hard a good distance past the cup and ended up three-putting.
An unbelievable finish to an incredible season!
— Legends Tour (@euLegendsTour) December 10, 2023
Although 51-year-old Da Silva was gutted to lose out, he can look back on two sensational years after starting to play on the Legends Tour in 2022. It was only after an invite that he was able to initially tee it up but he took full advantage, won the Staysure British PGA in England, and finished 2022 second on the Order of Merit behind – from a South African point of view – our own James Kingston who was No 1 12 months ago.
Da Silva, though, was Rookie of the Year and to again finish second in the Race to Mauritius this year speaks volumes for his drive, ability and superb shot-making skills. He won his four tournaments in Austria, France, Switzerland and Vietnam.
Kingston on Sunday closed with a 72 to tie for 19th while fellow South African Chris Williams, also after a 72, shared 22nd spot on 211.