Sunday 25 June 2017

Swede Johnson responds to home comforts as he wraps up victory in style

Swede Richard S Johnson sunk a 30-foot birdie putt at the last hole to claim the Scandinavian Masters title yesterday as British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen narrowly failed to win back-to-back trophies.

South African Oosthuizen was in contention to become the first player to follow up victory in the British Major with a regular tour win, but he had to settle for fourth.

Johnson delighted the home crowd at a soaking Bro Hof Slott course near Stockholm as his closing one-under-par 71 for an 11-under 277 total edged out Argentina's Rafa Echenique (69) by a stroke.

Damien McGrane was the best of the Irish competitors, finishing tied for eighth on six-under after two successive 69s over the weekend.

Michael Hoey finished three shots back and tied for 13th after he failed to build on his opening two rounds of 70, adding a 73 yesterday to the 72 he shot on Saturday.

Johnson's victory, worth €266,000, was his second on the European Tour, coming over eight years after he won the ANZ Championship in Australia.

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After more than four hours' delay because of heavy rain, Johnson began the final round sharing a one-stroke lead over Oosthuizen with South Korean KJ Choi.

However, when Choi immediately hit out of bounds at the first to run up a double-bogey, closely followed by two bogeys, the 40-year-old US PGA Tour regular was effectively out of the final mix.

First, Nicolas Colsaerts came through the field to grab the lead. Then, as the Belgian collapsed spectacularly, it was Echenique, looking for his maiden title, who ran Johnson closest.

Echenique, best known for his albatross at the final hole in Munich to finish second in the BMW International and win Europe's 2009 shot of the year, set a 10-under target.

Johnson knew he needed something special and obliged with a lengthy putt on 18 to become the fifth Swede to take the Scandinavian title.

In a rare appearance in Europe, it was a dramatic return to form for Johnson who had slumped to 161st on the US PGA Tour he has played since 2006 and 329th in the world rankings.

"I actually roared out loud when the putt went in; it meant so much to me," the winner told reporters.

Italian Edoardo Molinari (69) finished a further stroke back in third to enhance his Ryder Cup chances.

Oosthuizen's form rarely reached the heights of St Andrews last week as he carded a 73 to share fourth with Australian Brett Rumford (69) and New Zealand's Mark Brown (71).

Irish Independent

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