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Ross Fisher tees off at the second hole on his way to a final-round 65 and victory at the Irish Open yesterday.
Ross Fisher tees off at the second hole on his way to a final-round 65 and victory at the Irish Open yesterday.
Ross Fisher tees off at the second hole on his way to a final-round 65 and victory at the Irish Open yesterday.

Fisher closes in on Ryder Cup spot

Ross Fisher held his nerve under pressure to win the Irish Open in record-equalling style at Killarney yesterday - despite all that Padraig Harrington threw at him.

Ross Fisher held his nerve under pressure to win the Irish Open in record-equalling style at Killarney yesterday - despite all that Padraig Harrington threw at him. From three shots behind Harrington might have thought a closing seven-under-par 64 would seal his national title for the second time in four years. But England's Fisher, having lost the six-stroke lead he held in the third round, responded with a 65 to take his fourth European Tour title by two shots.

The 29-year-old's 266 aggregate, 18 under par, matched the tournament record set nine years ago by Colin Montgomerie - and with it Fisher climbs all the way from 13th to sixth in the race for places in Montgomerie's Ryder Cup side. "It just feels great to come out on top against such a world-class field," Fisher said after receiving the trophy and the 415,973 (Dh2.3m) first prize. "I could hear the roars and knew Padraig was making a charge. I just tried to stay patient and this is what we play for - we want to give ourselves a chance and I am no different.

"I don't know if I have done enough [to clinch a Ryder Cup debut] yet, but there are two more big weeks coming up and I just want to show Monty I am playing well." Behind Harrington, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and England's Chris Wood shared third place on a day when there 14 changes at the top of the leaderboard. Wood, Australia's Richard Green and Italy's Francesco Molinari had an early taste of it and with four birdies in his first seven Harrington joined the fun.

But Fisher, round in a course-record 61 on Friday, sank an 18-foot eagle putt at the seventh, holed from similar range on the ninth and then started for home with an eight iron to four feet. Three days after Robert Rock was disqualified from the event for a scorecard blunder, Marc Warren followed in the Englishman's footsteps yesterday. As with Rock - the joint leader at the time - Warren did not see that playing partner Mark Foster had put him down for a birdie three at the 13th and a par four on the next instead of the other way round.

At least the former World Cup winner was not on the leaderboard at the time. He had scored a closing 70 for two under and was not in the top 30, but it still cost him nearly 20,000. Elswehere, Siddikur Rahman became the first Bangladeshi golfer to win on the Asian Tour after the 25-year-old edged out Jbe Kruger in a play-off to win the Brunei Open at the Empire Hotel and Country Club. Starting the day tied for the lead with Ben Leong, Siddikur carded a four-under-par 67 to finish 16-under. However, a bogey at the last when he missed a 15-foot putt proved costly as Kruger went one better with a 66 to force the play-off.

But there was no repeat as the man from Dhaka parred the 18th, the first extra hole, to take the title after Kruger missed his putt from 10 feet. "It is very exciting. I'm the first Bangladeshi to play on the Asian Tour and in the two years that I'm on Tour, I have won a tournament. It is unbelievable," said Siddikur. "I didn't expect to win. Thankfully, everything in my game clicked and I was able to win. I hope to inspire more people to take up the game of golf in Bangladesh. This is a good victory for me and my country."

Siddikur grew up in humble surroundings and worked as a ball boy in a Dhaka golf club to pay for his school fees. He learned the game by fashioning his first golf club with a seven iron head on a piece of metal rod. * Agencies

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