Golf: Claydon is happy among the heavyweights

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The Independent Online
RUSSELL CLAYDON may weigh more than 16 stone but he has no intention of going on any fitness courses.

The 32-year-old from Cambridge won his first European Tour event at the BMW International in Munich, and many of his fellow professionals believe he might be even better if he lost a little weight. But Claydon is a happy soul. "If you think I'm going to run round Brighton beach, you have another think coming," he said.

Claydon, who won in Munich on Sunday with an 18-under-par aggregate of 270 to beat Jamie Spence by one shot, also has the most unorthodox grip of any Tour professional. He wraps his huge hands round the club with a three-knuckle grip and said cheerfully: "Well, it works."

It certainly did on Sunday as he beat off the challenge of Spence, the Germans Thomas Gogele and Bernhard Langer, and the Danish Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn as he finished with a four-under-par 68. Claydon's win came just one week before the points for the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, Massachusetts, start at the Canon European Masters in Switzerland.

Asked if he was sorry to have won one week too early, Claydon replied: "Not at all. I might win next week as well."

David Duval became the second player in US PGA Tour history to win more than $2m in a season with a two-stroke victory at the World Series of Golf in Ohio.

Duval joined Tiger Woods as the US tour's only $2m men, the pounds 270,000 first prize boosting his 1998 earnings to almost pounds 1.4m. He also became the first player since Zimbabwe's Nick Price in 1993-94 to win at least three tournaments in consecutive years. Since 1960, only seven other players have accomplished the feat - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Raymond Floyd, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Johnny Miller.

The 26-year-old from Florida ended a recent slump that saw him miss the cut on his previous two starts, the PGA Championship and Sprint International. He carded a two-under 68 for an 11-under 269 total.

Phil Mickelson, who led after the first round, also closed with a 68 to grab sole possession of second place.

Davis Love was third on eight-under 272. John Cook was four shots back, one stroke ahead of Woods and Loren Roberts.

In Canada's Greater Vancouver Open, Brandel Chamblee fired a final round five-under-par 66 to gain his first career victory.

Chamblee finished at 19-under-par 265 and won by three shots as he tied the tournament record set last year by Mark Calcavecchia. The 36-year- old won after Payne Stewart faltered over the closing holes. Stewart held a one-shot lead over Chamblee entering the final round, but managed just a one-under 70 and has won only once since his victory in the 1991 US Open. He had a pair of bogeys over the final five holes.

The captain of the United States' Solheim Cup team, Judy Rankin has used her two choices for the team on Rosie Jones and Steinhauer, who finished 11th and 12th in the Cup standings. Rankin said that was not nearly as important as their experience.

Jones, who needed to win the State Farm Rail Classic this weekend to earn a spot on the team but instead missed the cut, has a 4-2-0 record in the 1990 and 1996 Solheim Cup matches, both US victories.

The surprise was Steinhauer, a 35-year-old from Wisconsin. She started the season 23rd in the Solheim standings and with only two victories in 11 years on the LPGA tour - the 1992 du Maurier Classic and the 1994 Sprint Championship. But she rose steadily throughout the year and made a huge leap by winning the British Open last month at Royal Lytham and St Annes. "She won on a very difficult course in very difficult conditions, playing all those players we're going to face next month," Rankin said.

All that did was make Rankin look harder at Steinhauer, and she feels she came up with a winner.

Steinhauer was also 12th on the money list, the highest of any American who was not already on the team, and she was ranked fifth in birdies and sixth in greens in regulation, two important statistics for match play.

"When you look at my list from 11 to 20, she is the player who stepped forward and has done something," Rankin said. "When I looked in depth at some of the things she was accomplishing, she deserved her shot. She earned points in seven events this year, which I couldn't get other players to do."