Golf: Haeggman makes the grade: Faldo and Woosnam eclipsed as Swede breaks into Ryder Cup table

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The Independent Online
FOR the last 10 years they have been saying that a Swede would make the leap straight into the lap of the European Ryder Cup team. About 10 names were bandied and Karl Sven Joakim Haeggman's was not among them. It is, as Kenneth Wolstenholme would say, now.

Haeggman, 23 from Kalmar, has a reputation, albeit a short one, for being a trifle testy in the temperament department. Throwing the odd club and tantrum, that sort of thing. Yesterday, his behaviour was unimpeachable as he defeated a world-class field - Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam were in his shadow - to win the Peugeot Spanish Open by two strokes. Haeggman, who won pounds 83,330, has broken the ice.

He is enjoying a run of Cresta-like proportions, having finished joint second in Lyons and joint fourth in the Benson and Hedges International at St Mellion last week. This has brought his income to nearly pounds 180,000 and has catapulted him into the top 10 in the Ryder Cup points table. He now has sufficient clout at the bank to vacate his rented room in a flat in Richmond, Surrey. It is owned by his fellow Swede Mats Lanner, to whom Haeggman pays a monthly sum.

One of the reasons why you have not heard of Haeggman before, apart from the fact that his birthdate was as recent as 1969, is that his impetuousity resulted in him being carried off an ice rink last season. He was playing in the defensive gridline and put his stick on to the skate of an opponent. The stick speared into Haeggman's chest, he cracked a rib and was out of action for six weeks.

He shot 68 yesterday to beat Faldo and Ernie Els by two strokes, and Woosnam, Lanner and Jose-Maria Olazabal by three. Haeggman got the perfect result from an imperfect start when he hit his third shot 40 yards out of a bunker at the first hole to within 10 feet of the flag and made the putt for a birdie four. He remained in what he described as the comfort zone with another birdie at the fifth and went out in 33 with a two at the ninth. He got down from 35 feet there and although he was in trouble on several occasions over the back nine, he always managed to save par.

A score of 68 in the final round over the RAC club is impressive by any standards. Haeggman, by glancing at the leaderboard, knew that some of the greatest names in the game were keeping him company. Faldo also shot 68, an improvement of four strokes on the third round, but his putting let him down on the ninth and 10th holes. He missed from about five feet for a birdie at the ninth - had he made that he would have reached the turn in a three-under-par 33 - and had his only bogey of the day at the 10th, where he missed a putt from six feet. He was three under for the next eight holes.

Faldo is one of the few men in the world - those who hit their heads on low ceilings and low tapes at the Grand National are others - who are dissatisfied at being tall. Faldo, who is 6ft 3in, would like, for the sake of golf, to be about six inches shorter. 'Being so tall,' he said, 'means that more things can go wrong. Woosnam's height is perfect. When he stands over the ball he is perfectly addressed.'

Woosnam, who is on chest level with the name of one of Faldo's sponsors, scored 69 yesterday: three birdies, no bogeys. 'Although it could have been better I'm happy with that,' he said.

Neither Woosnam nor Faldo are playing in the Italian Open, which starts this week. The posters for that championship are dominated by the faces of Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros. Yesterday, Ballesteros struggled around in 76. 'It was terrible,' he said. 'I don't remember playing as badly as that.' Ballesteros, unfortunately, has a bad memory.

PEUGEOT SPANISH OPEN (RAC Club of Spain, Madrid) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 275 J Haeggman (Swe) 69 69 69 68. 277 N Faldo 68 69 72 68, E Els (SA) 70 68 69 70. 278 I Woosnam 67 70 72 69; J-M Olazabal (Sp) 74 69 67 68; M Lanner (Swe) 72 64 73 69. 279 J Hobday (SA) 70 70 70 69. 280 R Chapman 70 72 71 67; H Thul (Ger) 72 72 66 70; P Baker 70 69 70 71. 281 C Mason 70 70 74 67. 282 G Brand Jnr 68 73 74 67; C Rocca (It) 76 68 69 69; M James 69 71 70 72; M Krantz (Swe) 70 71 69 72. 283 G Day (US) 69 71 75 68; M Farry (Fr) 72 68 74 69. 284 R Rafferty 68 74 70 72. 285 P McGinley 74 70 72 69; J Rivero (Sp) 71 71 74 69; P-U Johansson (Swe) 74 69 72 70; S Luna (Sp) 71 67 75 72; P Broadhurst 69 75 70 71; M Pinero (Sp) 72 68 73 72; M-A Jimenez (Sp) 71 72 65 77. 286 J Coceres (Arg) 71 74 72 69; A Forsbrand (Swe) 70 73 72 71; V Singh (Fiji) 72 70 73 71; R Claydon 72 71 72 71; I Garbutt 70 73 71 72; D Gilford 73 70 68 75; D Clarke 69 71 70 76.

EUROPEAN RYDER CUP POINTS TABLE: 1 B Lane 303,457.11pts; 2 N Faldo 291,202.50; 3 C Montgomerie 254,214.12; 4 M James 251,331.58; 5 J Spence 210,577.65; 6 D Gilford 185,715.93; 7 P Broadhurst 181,645.95; 8 J Haeggman (Swe) 177,499.26; 9 C Rocca (It) 175,852.34; 10 J-M Olazabal (Sp) 173,412.50; 11 M-A Jimenez (Sp) 172,995.32; 12 S Lyle 172,109.01; 13 S Richardson 169,327.91; 14 B Langer (Ger) 164,751.48; 15 J Payne 156,556.24.

VOLVO EUROPEAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT: 1 M James pounds 177,909.17; 2 N Faldo pounds 158,000; 3 D Gilford pounds 155,842.00; 4 J Haeggman (Swe) pounds 153,406.67; 5 P Broadhurst pounds 141,009.28; 6 C Rocca (It) pounds 131,621.07; 7 S Torrance pounds 121,348.27; 8 F Nobilo (NZ) pounds 119,447.33; 9 J-M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 106,912.50; 10 C Montgomerie pounds 103,350.41.