Lundberg claims dramatic Russian Open victory

 

Golf Digest: European Tour Mikael Lundberg claimed victory at the Cadillac Russian Open after winning a play-off against Andrew Butterfield.

There was a huge consolation for the second-placed Englishman however, as he won enough money to return to the European Tour next season.

The event at the Le Meridien Moscow Country Club is co-sanctioned between the main and Challenge Tours - although it will be elevated to the elite schedule next year - but as one of the richer prizes for second-tier players it provides a huge incentive.

Butterfieldcertainly saw the opportunity on the back nine of his final round as he carded an eagle and four birdies to put him in the clubhouse lead at 15 under after a six-under round of 66.

Third-round leader Lundberg had been sitting pretty at 16 under but a bogey at the 399-yard 14th dropped him back and he then recovered superbly from sand at the 18th only to miss a five-foot birdie chance which would have given him victory.

He finished with a 69 and the duo went back down the 18th - three times in fact as they both went par-bogey-par - before the action switched to the par-five 17th.

Butterfield left himself an impossible chip with his third after finding the rough on the short left side and finished the full width of the green away from the flag.

Lundberg rolled his long eagle putt to within 18 inches and when Butterfield could not hole his 30-foot birdie attempt the Swede tapped in to earn a European Tour exemption until the end of 2006.

Scotland's David Drysdale finished joint third with Australian Jarrod Moseley after a round of 67.

SENIORS TOUR: Cork's Denis O'Sullivan put in a steady display of below-par golf at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland, but he could not find that little bit extra to threaten the winner, Australian Terry Gale.

O'Sullivan carded rounds of 69, 68 and 69 at the par-70 Golf Club Bad Ragaz to finish in a share of 12th place on four under, seven strokes adrift of Gale, who closed with a brilliant 66 in wet conditions to claim the €31,500 first prize.

It was Gale's seventh European Seniors Tour title and extended his record of consecutive winning years on the Tour to four, which is the longest current streak.

"I have been playing reasonably in the last few weeks without capitalising on the greens. I hit the ball well again this week and I took most of the opportunities with the putter, especially from around five foot, which is not easy on slowish greens.

"It's nice to know that when I have got a chance I can still do it. I recently turned 59 and I have struggled a bit this year, so there is always a shadow of doubt.

"Now I can enjoy this win and hopefully send the rain back to England so the Ashes Test can be abandoned," added Gale, who first won on the Seniors Tour in 1996 at The Belfry PGA Seniors Championship.

Two shots back in second place were France's Gery Watine and Luis Carbonetti of Argentina, who closed with respective rounds of 65 and 68 to finish on nine under.

The leading British player was Bournemouth's Kevin Spurgeon - whose father, Keith, was manager of Ajax in the early 1960s - in a share of sixth place on six under, while a stroke further back was Yorkshireman and former Ryder Cup player Gordon J Brand, who finished with a level-par final round of 70.

LET WALES OPEN: England's Kirsty Taylor led from start to finish and clinched her first European Tour win in 10 years at the Wales Ladies' Championship yesterday.

The 34-year-old opened with a Tour-record 61 and started the final round four shots ahead. She suffered a few moments of doubt before posting a 75 for a 14-under total of 274, three shots better than two more of England's best, Laura Davies and Trish Johnson, with Ireland's Rebecca Coakley finishing fifth - her best result since joining the Tour.

After seven bogeys in the first 12 holes at the Machynys Peninsula near Llanelli, Taylor suddenly found herself tied with playing partner Johnson with five holes to play.

But a birdie from 30 feet at the 14th and another at the next - where Johnson hit into water and made bogey - settled the nerves.

Taylor won €76,500, but the biggest reward was ending the years of waiting for the breakthrough win.

"At times, it has been frustrating," admitted the player who had two career seconds, most notably at the 2000 Women's British Open.

"Ten and a half years, it's a long time," she said. "At the moment I feel absolutely numb.

"The putt at the 14th was huge. Trish was inside me and more likely to make the birdie that would have put her ahead. Instead, it was me in front again."

In addition to the €43,000 joint runners-up cheque, the consolation for Johnson was a rise to number seven in the Solheim Cup rankings - the final automatic selection spot with just one tournament in Finland still to count.

Davies, the one Briton certain to be in the Solheim Cup for Europe's defence of the trophy at Crooked Stick in Indiana next month, was always struggling to play catch-up.

But she did hole a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the 18th for a round of 70.