Baker-Finch back in the saddle

IAN Baker-Finch has won his first golf tournament in almost two decades after claiming the 2011 Australian Legends Tour Championship in Byron Bay this week.

Baker-Finch led wire to wire at the rain affected 54-hole event coming home six strokes ahead of his nearest rival.

The Australian golfer’s last professional win was at the 1993 Australian PGA championship at Concord in Sydney.

Now mostly a television golf commentator, Baker-Finch reached his golfing pinnacle when he won the 1991 British Open but then famously retired after an extended form slump.

It was an emotional win at the season ending PGA Legends Tour event at the Byron Bay Golf Club and one that has given him more confidence to compete again on the world stage.

Baker-Finch finished the tournament at 7-under, with Queensland’s Allan Cooper in second on 1-under and American Mark Sherman alone in third spot on even.

“When the presentation was taking place and I looked up and saw all those people – many of them familiar faces, friends I’d played with for 30 years – I was very emotional,” Baker-Finch said after his win.

He vowed not only to return to defend his title next year but will also play more US Champions Tour events in 2012 when his schedule with the CBS network allows.

“I don’t want to compete just to make up the numbers,” he said. “When I go out to play, I want to feel that I have a chance of winning. I played in one tournament (the Toshiba Classic) on the US Champions Tour early this season and played poorly. ‘

“I think my level of apprehension didn’t allow me to compete. Then I played in a big four-ball event (the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in April). My partner, Joe Ozaki, and I finished tied third – just one stroke from the winners.

“My apprehension level was a bit lower for that event and I played well. I enjoyed the competition and felt I could still compete.”

Baker-Finch is in Melbourne this week commentating on the 2011 JBWere Australian Masters and then will spend the rest of the year at his Mooloolaba home on the Queensland Sunshine Coast with his family before returning to the US.

“Next year I’ll commentate for CBS, play a few Champions Tour tournaments, then come back to commentate on the big Australian tournaments at the end of the year, play a few events and enjoy some rest on the Sunshine Coast,” he said. “It’s a great life. I’m living the dream.”


  1. Great to see IBF winning again after so many years. He could definately compete and be successful on the Champions Tour if his schedule permits.

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