Golf: Coltart applies the polish

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The Independent Online
By Andy Farrell in Doha

FOR a man who has too often seen his cup as half empty rather than half full, Andrew Coltart found it flowing over with two victories in one day on different continents yesterday.

With the inaugural Qatar Masters counting as the 27-year-old Scot's first win on the European Tour, Coltart rid himself of an annoying label. In addition, prior to teeing off in Doha, he learned that the Australasian Tour season had closed in Canberra with his No1 spot on their money list unchallenged.

"When I walked into the locker-room this morning my caddie Ken walked straight up and shook me by the hand," Coltart said. "I guessed if he had not said anything it would have been bad news."

Immediately in a good frame of mind, Coltart played virtually blemish- free golf to score a 67 and win by two strokes from the overnight leader Andrew Sherborne and Sweden's Patrik Sjoland.

A Walker Cup player in 1991, Coltart had long been tipped to win in Europe but three runner-up places was his best to date. "It's frustrating when you read in the predictions in the golf magazines at the start of a year `Andrew Coltart to win his first tour event' only to see the same line the following year," he said.

"It is all well and good playing well for three rounds, but I had not been able to polish it off. It is a sickening feeling when you have a chance and don't pull it off."

But Coltart had won twice in Australia, the second time last November at the start of a successful winter Down Under. This came after a miserable season in '97 in which he did a fairly passable impression of a pressure cooker with a faulty lid. It took his fiancee Emma to make Coltart see sense.

"Emma was fairly blatant," he said. "She really stood by me and a lot of this is down to her. My goal now is to take each shot as it comes and try not to get frustrated so much. I tried not to raise my expectations today, just to do the best I could."

It was too good for Sherborne, whose two-stroke lead disappeared at the third when Coltart holed a birdie putt from fully 50 feet. Sherborne could make no response, making only one birdie in his 71. "I played like a pig and didn't deserve to win," he said.

Coltart's only failing was to run many of his approach putts as much as four feet past the hole. But it was a sign of his positive approach and every time he holed the one back, just like Tom Watson did in winning five Open Championships to become the young Coltart's boyhood hero.

Three birdies in four holes after the turn brought Sjoland only one behind the leader. The 26-year-old Swede is maybe only a tournament away from his first win after an impressive run of top-10 finishes dating back to the end of last season. But at the short par-four 16th, his drive caught the edge of a limestone rock in front of the green and rebounded off the fairway.

Sjoland managed no better than a par, while Coltart took the safe route to the right and pitched and one-putted for a his fifth birdie. It might not have been St Andrews, where he was part of Scotland's winning Alfred Dunhill Cup team in 1995, but Coltart did collect a unique trophy of a pearl golf ball inside a golden oyster shell.

l Michael Bradley fought strong winds, a bad back and his own self-doubt to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Doral-Ryder Open in Miami. The American was on 207, ahead of Stewart Cink. Tiger Woods, who also shot 71, joined Billy Mayfair and Mike Brisky three shots back, while Sandy Lyle was 12 behind Bradley on 219.

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