Golf: Fabulous Baker boy delivers quality goods: An anxious Englishman finally fulfils Faldo's prophesy by lording it over the Duke's course with a brilliant round

IT HAS taken five years for Peter Baker to clear his head and fulfil a prophesy made by Nick Faldo. Yesterday Baker, aged 25, produced a marvellous round of golf to win the Dunhill British Masters by seven strokes. He set a course record of 63 and finished 22 under par, beating the previous scoring record, set by Faldo when he won here in 1989, by a stroke. 'To be honest I don't even like the place,' Baker said of the Duke's course.

Baker, who led by a shot after the third round, thought that a 68 would be good enough to win. 'I couldn't believe how well I played,' he said. 'It got better and better. My ambition is to fill the shoes of people like Faldo and Langer. Hopefully it will not go the way it did last time, downhill.' He was referring to his victory in the Benson and Hedges International at Fulford in 1988 when he produced an eagle to defeat Faldo in a play-off prompting his opponent to make a star-is-born speech. It was five years too early.

When Baker hit a bad shot, which was often, he would react angrily. He had an attitude problem and his career drifted to the point where he was tempted to pack in the game. He consulted a sports psychologist, John Allsop, a diminutive man who is known on the Tour as the shrunken shrink. 'He helps me to relax and enjoy it,' Baker said. 'We all get too wrapped up and it becomes a matter of life and death. If I hit a bad shot I don't get uptight about it.'

Baker needed Allsop when he came down the 18th yesterday. He thought what victory would mean to him, he thought about the money ( pounds 100,000) and then a man looking suspiciously like the devil tapped him on the shoulder. 'Baker blows seven-shot lead,' Baker said. 'I could see it now.' He hit a four-iron to the heart of the green. Five years ago he began to think of making the 1989 Ryder Cup team. Rapidly promoted to 19th place he will be forced to think about making this year's team. What is certain is that he has now won a place in the Johnnie Walker World Championship in Jamaica in December.

The romantic money, allied to a touch of greed (he was 14-1), was on Carl Mason and although the 39-year- old hardly put a foot wrong neither he nor anybody else could match Baker. Mason, playing in front of Baker, made it interesting over the front nine, going to the turn in 32. On a couple of occasions he drew level and at one point allowed himself the luxury of thinking about the winner's speech. But every time Mason got a birdie Baker quickly matched it and he proceeded to destroy the field.

He thought the fifth and the sixth were key holes. He got down from six feet to save par at the fifth and from 10 feet for a birdie at the sixth. It was the beginning of a fabulous run for the Baker boy. He birdied the eighth, ninth, 10th, and 11th and when he eagled the 13th everybody else was playing for place money. He hit a five- wood approach to 15 feet and rolled in the putt. He followed it with a birdie at 14 and although he dropped a shot at the 16th, another birdie at the last gave him the course record, which he equalled in the second round, by a stroke. A lapse of concentration led him to put down a four instead of a three at the 14th but that was quickly rectified. 'Because of what I've been through this feels better than the last time,' Baker said. Mason, who has never won in 20 years on Tour, won pounds 66,660 for finishing second. 'It's like being reborn,' he said.

Faldo, for the first time in the championship, was not downcast. Apart from driving left at the 14th, for a bogey-five, he played 'really good and putted quite nicely'. Faldo shot 70, two under for the day, five under for the tournament. 'I'm quite happy,' he said which, on a scale of satisfaction, represents an improvement on the first three days of about 100 per cent. 'When you find something to improve your game it's great,' Faldo said. 'I wish I had found it earlier.' So do we all. Getting a civil word out of him this week was like drawing teeth.

Faldo's next tournament is the US Open at Baltusrol and as part of his preparations he will play at Pine Valley in New Jersey on Friday. It is strictly business. 'It's supposed to be one of the best inland courses in the world,' Faldo said. As a budding golf course designer, he will make his own judgement. Faldo, never in contention in the Masters at Augusta, will change his game-plan for the US Open. 'I don't want to be standing on the practice range wearing myself out,' he said. 'At Augusta I did too much work.' Colin Montgomerie, who finished five shots clear of Faldo here, has an early flight this morning to New York where he will play in the Westchester Classic this week prior to the US Open.

Tony Jacklin, the last Briton, 23 years ago, to win the US Open, fared somewhat better than one of Europe's Ryder Cup hopefuls, Steven Richardson. Richardson scored 78 in the final round, finishing with a triple-bogey eight.

DUNHILL BRITISH MASTERS (Duke's Course, Woburn) Final scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 266 P Baker 67 64 72 63. 273 C Mason 68 67 69 69. 274 T Johnstone (Zim) 70 70 68 66. 275 R Chapman 70 69 69 67; R Rafferty 68 66 70 71. 276 D Feherty 66 68 72 70; J Payne 68 70 68 70; J Haeggman (Swe) 68 67 69 72. 277 G Day (US) 68 73 71 65. 278 C Montgomerie 70 69 71 68; P Mitchell 71 69 70 68; J Parnevik (Swe) 69 66 71 72; M James 70 65 71 72; S Lyle 70 65 70 73. 279 S Torrance 69 67 73 70; B Langer (Ger) 70 67 71 71; R Boxall 67 69 71 72; D Cooper 68 70 68 73. 280 M Davis 68 73 72 67; M McNulty (Zim) 70 72 67 71. 281 E Romero (Arg) 71 71 71 68; R Davis (Aus) 71 70 71 69; E Els (SA) 68 71 70 72; M Mouland 67 74 68 72; P Fowler (Aus) 73 69 67 72. 282 B Lane 69 72 72 69; F Nobilo (NZ) 68 75 70 69; G Brand Jnr 69 71 72 70; C Rocca (It) 70 68 73 71; P Curry 73 67 71 71; M Roe 68 71 70 73; I Palmer (SA) 67 71 70 74. 283 G Levenson (SA) 70 70 76 67; P Lawrie 73 67 75 68; P Broadhurst 71 70 72 70; J Rivero (Sp) 67 74 72 70; N Faldo 68 73 72 70; A Oldcorn 72 71 70 70; M Gates 70 70 72 71; D Clarke 72 69 70 72. 284 M Mackenzie 72 69 72 71; J Van de Velde (Fra) 66 71 75 72; J Sewell 70 68 74 72; C O'Connor Jnr 70 69 71 74. 285 S Grappasonni (It) 70 70 73 72; D Gilford 71 72 70 72; J Townsend (US) 71 67 72 75; M Harwood (Aus) 72 69 69 75; J M Olazabal (Sp) 72 71 66 76. 286 H Clark 73 69 74 70; G Turner (NZ) 72 69 72 73; E Darcy 72 68 71 75. 287 J Berendt (Arg) 73 69 75 70; G J Brand 70 72 72 73. 288 A Murray 72 70 76 70; J M Canizares (Sp) 68 71 77 72; J M Carriles (Sp) 71 69 73 75; P Price 73 69 71 75. 289 J Quiros (Sp) 73 70 73 73; A Sherborne 72 67 76 74; A Binaghi (It) 68 70 74 77. 290 J Hobday (SA) 75 68 75 72; R Karlsson (Swe) 69 73 75 73; M Pinero (Sp) 70 72 74 74. 291 T Jacklin 67 76 73 75; R Hartmann (US) 71 70 73 77; G Cali (It) 74 68 72 77; M Sunesson (Swe) 70 70 73 78. 292 M Lanner (Swe) 70 70 78 74. 293 P Hall 71 71 72 79. 297 S Richardson 71 72 76 78.

----------------------------------------------------------------- LEADING EUROPEAN RANKINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- ORDER OF MERIT ----------------------------------------------------------------- (Dunhill Masters): ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 M James (Eng) pounds 194,339.67; 2 D Gilford (Eng) pounds 181,842.64; 3 J Haeggman (Swe) pounds 180,664.17; 4 F Nobilo (NZ) pounds 177,881; 5 C Montgomerie (Sco) pounds 165,975.08; 6 N Faldo (Eng) pounds 162,500; 7 G Brand Jnr (Sco) pounds 159,171.27; 8 G Turner (NZ) pounds 148,846.74; 9 P Broadhurst (Eng) pounds 145,509.28; 10 C Rocca (It) pounds 139,623.98; 11 P Baker (Eng) pounds 138,778.67; 12 B Langer (Ger) pounds 134,747.14; 13 S Torrance (Sco) pounds 134,598.27; 14 J M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 131,356.71; 15 W Westner (SA) pounds 127,220.64; 16 C Mason (Eng) pounds 127,184.87; 17 J Payne (Eng) pounds 115,228.50; 18 B Lane (Eng) pounds 112,338.80; 19 D W Basson (SA) pounds 106,984.87; 20 E Romero (Arg) pounds 100,838.88. ----------------------------------------------------------------- RYDER CUP TABLE ----------------------------------------------------------------- (1pt for every pounds 1 won): 1 B Lane (Eng) 331,797.75pts; 2 C Montgomerie (Sco) 316,838.79; 3 N Faldo (Eng) 295,702.50; 4 B Langer (Ger) 289,691.48; 5 M James (Eng) 267,762.08; 6 D Gilford (Eng) 211,716.57; 7 J Spence (Eng) 210,577.65; 8 J Haeggman (Swe) 204,756.76; 9 J M Olazabal (Sp) 197,856.71; 10 G Brand Jnr (Sco) 196,991.93; 11 S Richardson (Eng) 187,918.41; 12 P Broadhurst (Eng) 187,145.95; 13 J Payne (Eng) 185,230.01; 14 S Lyle (Sco) 184,287.01; 15 C Rocca (It) 183,855.25; 16 M A Jimenez (Sp) 172,995.32; 17 M Roe (Eng) 171,550.41; 18 S Torrance (Sco) 164,805.95; 19 P Baker (Eng) 155,448.67; 20 R Rafferty (N Irl) 152,680.16. -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

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