IN the space of an hour Kevin Spurgeon saw the chance of winning an extra 50,000 euros slip through his fingers.

Many players would have thrown down their clubs in disgust or, at the very least, become engulfed in an air of stony silence.

Not Dorset’s only European Tour player. Spurgeon’s disappointment of seeing his name drop off the leader board in one of the world’s major events was only momentary.

Spurgeon, enjoying unheralded success in the twilight of his career, was gracious to the last as he joked with fans and marshalls on a sun-drenched Sunday evening at Walton Heath.

‘Nice shape’ was the call from the gallery as Spurgeon’s unique yellow Srixon ball found the middle of the 18th fairway as most of his tee shots tended to do in this year’s Senior Open championship.

In response, Spurgeon picked up his tee, faced the crowd and rubbed his stomach and said “that’s the only one I’ve got!”

For a player who had just dropped four shots in as many holes, it highlighted perfectly the Ferndown touring professional’s good nature.

After 12 holes, Spurgeon stood over a three-foot putt for a share of fourth place. Surely for someone that had been sinking putts for fun, it would be a formality.

What happened next, though, dictated the remaining five holes as Spurgeon slid back down the leader board for a share of 16th and a more modest pay day after a roller-coaster level par round of 72 for a two-under-par total.

Astonishingly, Spurgeon’s missed putt didn’t even touch the sides as the momentum of a run that had yielded five birdies stalled.

The 56-year-old’s rise from a club professional at the Isle of Purbeck and Dudsbury golf clubs to Senior Tour star is well documented. Others have madethe transition but few have brid-ged the gap more successfully.

In December 2009, Spurgeon held off the challenge of ex-Ry-der Cup captain Sam Torrance to win the Mauritius Open.

And for the past five years, the man with a ‘Lehman-like’ swing has rubbed shoulders with some of the game’s greatest players such as Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle.

Spurgeon’s fifth British major appearance began early on a cool and damp Thursday morning in Surrey as his score of 77 matched the gloomy conditions.

But after a pep talk from his wife Elly and a conversation with his sports psychologist Jon Adler, he returned the next day to shoot a championship best six-under-par 66.

Only a special type of character could pull off such a turnaround.

Spurgeon’s manner on the course is exceptional. He talks to every volunteer and picks out any fan he knows with a wave or a quick chat. Due to motorway congestion, my arrival on the first day was delayed by an hour and I didn’t catch up with his group until the sixth hole.

Ever aware of his surroundings, Spurgeon clocked me with a good-natured point to his watch. And at the first opportunity, he came over to shake my hand to thank me for taking the time to record his progress.

This refreshing and humble approach has won Spurgeon many friends, with course recorders and scoreboard carriers asking to follow his group.

And he even had the American followers of his playing partner, amateur Randy Haag, whooping and a hollering as he blitzed his way to his stunning 66.

Despite losing that magic touch so late into his final round, Spurgeon refused to dwell on what might have been.

Instead, he was just grateful to add another 17,000 merit points to his season’s total, to enhance his chances of plying his trade for another year on the Senior Tour. His winnings moved Spurgeon up to 28th in the money list (top 30 keep cards).

And for the sake of the many spectators and officials who enjoy the spontaneous banter with one of the senior game’s most jovial characters, long may his success continue.