Beaten Coltart backed to win

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Ian Woosnam may be the man of the moment again after his victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic, but he took the time yesterday to offer words of encouragement to the man he beat in the play-off in Singapore.

Andrew Coltart was the victim when Woosnam twice holed long putts on the 18th green on Sunday, one taking him into a play-off with the 25-year- old Scot, the other to win the title. Before heading off for the Heineken Classic, starting in Perth, Australia, on Thursday, Woosnam told Coltart: "I think you'll soon win, and if it's any consolation I hope you beat me the next time we meet in a play-off."

Sunday's victory, worth pounds 100,000, was Woosnam's 37th as a professional and took his earnings on the European Tour alone to nearly pounds 4.3m. However, the timing of his triumph was the important thing to the former world No 1 as it was that it came just when people - and he himself - were wondering if he would ever hit the heights again.

His Japanese club sponsors, Maruman, did not renew their contract at the end of last season and Woosnam was worried about the state of his back. "I was thinking then that if my back was going to be like that for the rest of my life I didn't want to play."

At Tanah Merah, though, he was unrecognisable from the figure who had put two putters - one long, one short - in his bag in the second round of the German Open last August because he did not know the best way forward.

Woosnam has altered his swing and has been working with Colin Montgomerie's coach, Bill Ferguson. He also gave his back as much rest as he could in a 10-week lay-off prior to going to Singapore.

n Raymond Floyd won five skins worth $180,000 (pounds 120,000) with a tap-in putt on Sunday and collected $240,000 in all to win his third successive Senior Skins Game at the Mauna Lani Resort in Hawaii. Jim Colbert, the 1995 Senior Tour Player of the Year, won $180,000, while Arnold Palmer picked up $80,000 and Jack Nicklaus $40,000.

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