Paul Broadhurst will this week try to match Tiger Woods’ achievement last Sunday by winning a European Tour event three years in a row when he defends his Portuguese Open title.
That, however, should not detract from what a notable feat it would be by the 41-year-old former Ryder Cup golfer, who just five years ago was fighting for his future at the qualifying school.
Prior to Woods achieving his hat-trick at the co-sanctioned CA World Championship in Miami three wins in succession at a tournament had been done a mere four times on the circuit.
Ian Woosnam was the first in Monte Carlo in 1990-92, followed by Nick Faldo at the Irish Open in 1991-93, Colin Montgomerie at the PGA Championship at Wentworth in 1998-2000 and then Woods at the NEC Invitational in Akron in 1999-2001.
Broadhurst retained the title at Penina last April, but now it is back to the Oitavos course near Estoril on which he ended a decade without a victory 12 months earlier.
That week saw one of the most dramatic finishes in Tour history. Paul Lawrie was leading when he ran up a triple bogey seven on the 17th, leaving Barry Lane one ahead of Broadhurst, who thought his chance had gone when he closed with a bogey.
Lane, though, found a bush with his final drive, went out of bounds with his third and took a nightmare quintuple bogey nine to crash to fifth place.
“It was an unbelievable finish,” said Broadhurst, who beat Lawrie by one. “Of course you hope that nothing like that would happen to Barry, but in the end it is 72 holes.”
Last year was less harrowing, but eventful again. Broadhurst, three ahead with six to play, double-bogeyed the 13th, birdied the next, but then bogeyed the 17th to fall into a tie with Anthony Wall.
Having posted his total Wall could only watch as Broadhurst, just off the green in two at Penina’s closing par five, chipped to two feet for victory.
It gave Broadhurst the chance of returning to the Ryder Cup after a gap of 15 years, but although he was runner-up to Robert Karlsson in the Wales Open two months later he did not make it, and has since slipped to 86th in the world and will again miss out on the Masters next week.
Last week he was present in Florida, though, as Woods successfully went hat-trick hunting. Broadhurst finished 16 shots behind and a closing 77 did not send him back to Europe in the most optimistic of moods.
“I struggled big time,” he commented. “I was losing everything left on the driving range and that’s how I started the round.”
He hoped a call to coach Bob Torrance would set him up for this week. “I was disappointed with the way I finished last season and have been trying to make some changes.
“I’ve not played that much, but if I can get into contention hopefully the experience of the last two years will pull me through.
“To win it twice was brilliant and it would be fantastic to win for a third time and join that list of players. I didn’t get the chance to defend at Oitavos last year, but it’s good to be back there again – it’s a tough golf course with a really tough finish.”