Saturday 23 September 2017

Irish experience drives Bjorn on

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn poses with the winning trophy after yesterday's victory in the Qatar Masters at Doha GC. Photo: Reuters
Denmark's Thomas Bjorn poses with the winning trophy after yesterday's victory in the Qatar Masters at Doha GC. Photo: Reuters

Bernie McGuire in Doha, Qatar

Thomas Bjorn drew on his experience in capturing an Irish Open title to eventually cruise to a four-stroke victory in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Bjorn parred his opening 14 holes in windy conditions before recording birdies on three of his closing four holes in a round of 69 for 14-under-par.

It enabled the Dane, who turns 40 on February 18, to finish well clear of Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, the 2009 Qatar Masters champion, who signed for a 68 and a 10-under-par tally.

Bjorn collected a first-prize cheque of €303,113 to jump from 145th to third place in the Race to Dubai.

Bjorn claimed it was similar blustery conditions that he overcame to win at Carton House in 2006 that proved pivotal in the Qatar capital.

"I like tough conditions for some reason, and I like being the last man standing," said Bjorn.

"That was the situation in the Irish Open and it's been the situation with a number of my victories. We are all different as golfers, with some simply liking it when it's 25 degrees and no wind, and they can shoot 25-under-par.

"That has never been my thing because I like it better when it gets tough, and it gets under other people's skin. So I am proud of the way I conducted myself here this week but, after those three birdies in my last four holes, it was a simple cruise to victory."

The Dane now heads to this week's Dubai Desert Classic where he will celebrate the 10th anniversary of his four-round head-to-head success over then world No 1 Tiger Woods.

England's Lee Westwood continues as the game's leading-ranked player after Martin Kaymer's share of 28th place on two-under-par.

Kaymer needed to finish first or second here to go ahead of Westwood, but the German gets another opportunity in Dubai where Woods is competing. It will be the first time since last October, when Westwood went to No 1, that the game's three leading players will compete at the same event.

Austrian Markus Brier (73) shared third place with Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello (68) at nine-under-par, with Brier taking a big step in moving from 83rd to 17th on the Race to Dubai money list after last year losing his Tour card.

Darren Clarke also heads to the UAE pleased with his efforts in shooting a final-round 68 for a four-under-par tally and a share of 12th place.

"It goes without saying that Thursday was a bad day but since then I've improved my position each day," said Clarke.

"I've starting to putt a lot better thanks to Jose Maria (Olazabal), and I've arranged another practice round with him early next week in Dubai.

"I'm not holing my share yet, but I am holing a couple more each round," he added.

Clarke picked up four places to move to 28th in the Race to Dubai with Rory McIlroy, who also tees up in Dubai later this week, still the leading Irish player on the money list despite having dropped three places to ninth.

Paul McGinley opened his account for the new season by earning €8,366 after a final-round 71 for a share of 45th place at one-over-par.

The Dubliner tied with Belfast's Michael Hoey, who played alongside McGinley and also posted 71, finishing level-pegging after 72 holes.

Irish Independent

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