Golf: Eales achieves his goal

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The Independent Online
PAUL EALES achieved one of his greatest ambitions yesterday when he won his first European Tour event. The touring professional at Royal Lytham and St Annes shot a final round of 71 to win the Extremadura Open at Badahoz, in Spain. He finished with an aggregate of 281 to beat the Swede, Peter Hedblom, by one shot.

The Preston-based golfer, now 30 and in only his second year on the Tour, started the day a shot behind the Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and the South African, Nic Henning. He burst to the front early in his round, picking up five shots in four holes when he birdied the fifth, seventh and eighth holes and eagled the sixth, where he holed a five-iron from 157 yards for a two.

'I shall never forget that sixth hole,' Eales said. 'I hit the five-iron just perfectly and I saw it go right into the hole. It gave me a big lift. That run of four holes from the fifth gave me a useful cushion, but I knew there was still a long way to go so I just tried to make sure I had no disasters.'

Coming to the par-five 18th, Eales was still two shots ahead but, in trying to avoid water on the left, he drove into a bunker on the right.

He played out safely, however, and hit his third shot to the front of the green. Though he missed a four-foot putt for his par, it did not matter. Three putts was good enough for victory.

Hedblom shot a final-round 70 to take second place from Andrew Coltart, of Scotland, the former Walker Cup player, and Jose Maria Canizares, the Spanish Ryder Cup player, who both finished on 283.

Four other British players, Jim Payne, Peter Mitchell, Lee Westwood and Ian Spencer, finished in joint fifth place with Jimenez and Henning.

Eales said that his ambition now is to win the Open Championship at Royal Lytham, a course he is very familiar with, in 1996.

Scores, Sporting Digest,

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