Victory looked assured for Tom Watson as he stood on the 18th tee with a three-shot lead but the American had to survive some serious trouble to take the Senior British Open at Muirfield on Sunday.

Watson had played brilliantly for four days around the links on which he had won the Open in 1980. Despite tough conditions, he looked comfortable throughout Sunday while those around him struggled in strong winds.

However, Watson found a fairway bunker from the final tee. He then failed to escape from the trap on his first attempt and was forced to chip out sideways. But when Stewart Ginn and Mark O?Meara each missed makeable birdie putts Watson could afford to take two putts for a double bogey and the title.

?I birdied the 11th in 1980 and again today. That gave me a lot of breathing room. In ?80 it gave me a five- or four-shot lead, and today it gave me a three-shot lead. It was a big deal,? said Watson.

Senior British Open

Level T Watson (US)
+1 S Ginn (Aus), M O’Meara (US)
+4 J Haas (US), L Nielsen (US), L Roberts (US), E Romero (Arg)