England's Nick Dougherty returns to winning ways at the BMW International Open yesterday - and with it earns a place in next month's British Open.
Good times return for composed Dougherty
MUNICH // England's Nick Dougherty, who this time last year had little desire to play golf, finally returned to winning ways at the BMW International Open yesterday - and with it earned a place in next month's British Open. But what a scare the 27-year-old from Liverpool - so devastated by the sudden death of his mother straight after his US Masters debut 14 months ago - was given before he made the BMW International Open his third European Tour victory.
Four clear and seemingly coasting, the gap was suddenly cut to one when Argentina's Rafa Echenique sank a 243-yard three-iron on the last for only the fourth albatross of the Tour season. Having eagled the 11th Echenique equalled the Tour record with his back nine 27 - he actually played the last 10 holes in an amazing 10 under - but Dougherty kept his composure. Three closing pars gave him a superb 64 for a 22 under par total and after raising a hand to the skies he said: "The strength that my mum had lives on in me.
"I want to say thank you to all the people who have helped me through some tough times. I have a great team around me and it's great to be back where I feel I belong." The win earned him nearly £283,000 (Dh1.7 million) and he qualifies for Turnberry off a mini-Order of Merit which has been running since the Italian Open at the start of last month. On the moment when he saw what Echenique had done Dougherty added: "I thought 'Oh my goodness'. The 18th has been an absolute brute for me this week and I'm delighted to get the job done."
Long-time leader Retief Goosen finished third, but Bernhard Langer, 51, hoping to become the oldest winner in Tour history in front of his home fans and only one behind after an opening birdie, fell back to ninth. Echenique commented: "I've never had an albatross before and I had a great sensation. This is a dream for me - it's unbelievable." Elsewhere yesterday, Ryo Ishikawa carded a one-over-par 73 in the final round but it was still enough for the 17-year-old to win the Yomiuri Classic by three shots.
Two-under at the turn following three birdies and a bogey and holding a six-shot lead, Ishikawa looked in danger of throwing the title away when a dropped shot at the 10th was followed by a nine at the par-four 12th. However, the Saitama golfer managed to compose himself, eagling the 16th and birdying the last to finish 13-under and three ahead of David Smail. Smail needed a repeat of yesterday's blistering 64 but had to settle for a level-par 72 that included one birdie and one bogey.
Tomohiro Kondo, Kenichi Kuboya and Kim Hyung-sung all finished in a tie for third after shooting 70, 71 and 74. * PA Sport