x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Hedblom wins the hard way

A week ago in Holland's KLM Open, Peter Hedblom went from being the third-round leader to losing in a play-off.

GLENEAGLES // A week ago in Holland's KLM Open, Peter Hedblom went from being the third-round leader to losing in a play-off. The Swede was again in the lead here yesterday morning, only this time he succeeded in finishing things off, winning by a shot from Martin Erlandsson. He holed a nasty four-footer at the 17th for par, and an equally unappetising three-footer for his five up the long 18th. That done, he thumped the air in sheer relief. "It was unbelievable, I drew confidence from last week and I did it," he said.

This was Hedblom's third win on the European following on from the 1996 Moroccan Open and the 2007 Malaysian Open title. It was the most lucrative of the trio, earning him a £233,330 (Dh1.39million) cheque on top of last week's £134,000. Hedblom, 39, was only just through the turn when Erlandsson, who was up until yesterday in danger of losing his tour card, posted a record-breaking, 10-under-par 62.

The heartbeats were mounting on the 35-year-old Erlandsson as he turned in 30 and followed up with three more birdies to make it seven in a row. Cameramen and crowds were converging on him, while his name had moved to the top of the leaderboard. It was a lot to take in. One moment he was thinking that he might win the tournament and, the next, a small voice inside was suggesting that things could take a turn for the worse.

Caught between the two extreme ends of thought processes as the pressure grew, he dipped into the sessions he has been having with his Swedish psychologist, a former hurdler. He worked on the advise of focusing his mind on anything other than golf. Instead of making a big thing of watching the ball, he studied his thumb. "I was looking at my thumb and wondering how it looked," he said. "I was also trying to look at a tree or somebody in the audience to keep my mind at peace," Erlandsson said later.

After two holes of steering his shots, he recaptured "the right feeling" for the last four holes, grabbing his tenth and final birdie at the par-three 17th. Waiting in the clubhouse, he saw Hedblom miss from seven feet for a par at the 15th hole and the two were level. Thoughts of a play-off faded however when Hedblom bagged the birdie he needed on the 16th to get back to the winning score of 13-under. Hedblom said: "I thought last week was, but this was harder.What a round Martin played - I couldn't believe it and he should have won."