Storm says win will 'change his life'

 

Eight years after lifting the British amateur title - and four years after working at a cream cake factory cleaning trays for £145 a week - Graeme Storm finally became a European Tour winner today.

The 29-year-old world number 205 from England pulled off yet another French Open shock when he came past and then held off, among others, Ryder Cup pair Colin Montgomerie and Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National.

As well as capturing the first prize of nearly £450,000 by a stroke from Dane Soren Hansen, Storm also earned himself a place in the Open Championship at Carnoustie on July 19th-22nd.

"Working in the factory for three months helped me see the other side," he said as he reflected on a victory he reckoned will change his life.

"I'm not being disrespectful to people who work in a factory but, from what I wanted to achieve, it was a bit of a comedown."

Storm, who created history in 2000 when his mother caddied for him in the Masters, needed the extra money while making four trips to the qualifying school, but then gradually began to establish himself.

And now he has at last joined his Walker Cup team-mates Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Simon Dyson in the winners' enclosure.

The nearest he had come before was when he tied second with Montgomerie at the 2005 European Open and his win today followed no fewer than 13 top 10 finishes.

A brilliant closing 66, the round of his career, gave him the title with a seven-under-par total of 277.

Overnight leader Hansen was runner-up after failing with a 40-foot birdie putt to tie on the last, while Montgomerie's bogeys at the 15th and 16th kept his 19-month barren spell going and left him in a tie for third, not only with Bjorn, who also led outright on the back nine, but also Ireland's Damien McGrane and England's Simon Khan.

In his last tournament, Montgomerie had crashed out of the US Open with a second round 82 but, eight days after turning 44, he took the positives out of his near-miss.

"I know now that if I putt well, I can win again," he said.  "I gave it a good shot and didn't hit a bad shot on the 15th or 16th, but bogeyed both.

"You have doubts, of course you do, but on the drive back home now I'll be thinking about all the positives."

Hansen was left to rue going in the lake at the second and also double-bogeying the sixth.  By then, Bjorn had birdied the third, fifth and seventh and a great chip to three feet on the long ninth saved a vital par after he had strayed into the hay.

McGrane was on the 17th by then and, with the strong wind and all the water on the back nine, a great up and down from over the back of the last green for a dream 65 gave the 36-year-old from County Meath a definite chance to win.

"My putter was red hot," he said. "I would not say it's the best round I've ever played \[he had a 63 in Hong Kong], but when I look back on it in a year's time, maybe it will be."

McGrane was one off the lead when he handed in his 65, while Bjorn was then caught and overtaken by Montgomerie's birdies at the ninth and 10th.

When the Scot carved his drive into knee-high rough on the 12th and bogeyed, it was a three-way tie and next it was Storm's turn to take over at the top on his own.

Out in 33, he rolled in a 20-footer at the 13th and then pitched to nine feet on the long next to reach seven under.

That was where he stood in the second round with seven to play, only to run up three bogeys and a closing double bogey. He was praying he could do better than that — and boy did he.

Pars at the 15th and 16th were a good start, but Montgomerie joined him with a chip from the rough to two feet at the 15th minutes after Bjorn had lipped out from under five feet.

Montgomerie three-putted the 15th, missing from three feet and, by dropping another on the next after going long, his glory was all but over, as was Bjorn's when he bogeyed the 17th after a drive into the rough.