Tue, Jun 03, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Strange beats Karlsson to win in Wales

AFP , NEWPORT, WALES

Australian Scott Strange held off a late challenge from Robert Karlsson to win the Wales Open at Celtic Manor on Sunday.

Strange, 31, had never finished higher than 10th on the European Tour but the Perth-based player defied his world ranking of 164th on the new course built to stage the 2010 Ryder Cup.

From the moment he opened with a 63 on Thursday, Strange was the form player and he produced a flawless closing 64, the joint best of the day, to win with a staggering 22 under par total of 262.

Karlsson, third in his previous three events, also shot 64 but could only finish four shots back in second place, while Darren Clarke’s 66 lifted him from 14th into a tie for fourth, nine shot off first place.

Strange, the only player to have two rounds of 60 in European Tour history, birdied five of the first seven holes to be only three behind, but a shocking five-iron into the water on the short 13th was effectively the end of his challenge for the first prize.

Karlsson, lying joint third overnight, tested the leader’s character with six successive birdies around the turn making it eight in all for the Swede.

That cut Strange’s advantage to two, but with a matching outward 31 and then further birdies on the 11th and 14th the two-time Asian Tour winner re-established his command and it was pretty much game over.

France’s Raphael Jacquelin was third on his own and joint fourth with Clarke were English pair Nick Dougherty and Benn Barham, Italian Francesco Molinari and Argentina’s Rafa Echenique.

Dougherty finished birdie-eagle for a 68 and stays eighth in the Ryder Cup race, while Karlsson strengthens his position at sixth.

Colin Montgomerie’s closing 72 dropped him to 58th of the 73 who made the cut and means he has still not had a top-40 finish in strokeplay since January.

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