Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bjorn again as Dane makes it two in a row


Bernie McGuire, at Crans-sur-Sierre

Rory McIlroy was delighted to embrace new champion Thomas Bjorn, but remains determined to get both hands on the Swiss trophy after finishing third in the Omega European Masters yesterday.

Bjorn again exhibited proof that life begins at 40 by winning for a second week in succession, and, in doing so, becomes the first over 40-year-old in 14 years to win on the European Tour.

Bjorn, also a former Irish Open winner, came from three back at the start of the final round and recorded a tournament best 62 to win by four strokes on 20-under par.

Germany's Martin Kaymer, who complained of just an hour's sleep due to a head cold, had two early eagles in a final-round 65 to grab second place on 16-under par.

Three players -- McIlroy (68), Jamie Donaldson (70) and South African Jaco van Zyl (64) -- shared third place on 15-under. World No 2 Lee Westwood (70) was among three players in sixth place on 14-under.

Bjorn arrived in the Swiss Alps drained after going five extra holes in capturing last week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

However, he dug deep, just as his good friend Darren Clarke had done at Royal St George's to capture the British Open.

"With what Darren (Clarke) did in winning the British Open, we can show that we are both capable of playing with the best in the world," said Bjorn.

"At this age, you are by no means finished. You can't write people off when they get past 40 because this game has so much to do with experience.

McIlroy met Bjorn as he made his way to the scorer's hut, but it was the gleaming trophy sitting just inside the building that he would have rather wrapped his arms around.

"I'd love to get my hands on that trophy one day, but unfortunately not this year," he said. "It was a great week for me, as I finished top three. But then I had a lot of great opportunities on five, six, seven and nine but just didn't convert, and if those had come off, then it might have been a different day.

"Looking back, I've shot four rounds in the 60s, and I feel 100pc healthy again, and I feel 100pc positive heading towards the end of the season."

McIlroy's only comfort is that he has moved up one place to second on the Race to Dubai, but he is still a massive €1.74m behind Luke Donald.

Dubliner Peter Lawrie moved up six places and inside the top 60 in the order of merit after carding a closing-round 69 to share 16th place at 10-under par.

Irish Independent

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