Golf: Palmer snatches title from Torrance

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The Independent Online
IAN PALMER birdied four of the last five holes yesterday to snatch the Jersey European Airways Open title from Sam Torrance. The South African shot a 63 - one outside the course record - to win the pounds 50,000 first prize with a tournament record total of 268, 20 under par.

Torrance, going for his fourth victory in 12 weeks, finished two behind but was not too disappointed as the pounds 33,330 runners-up cheque extends his lead at the head of the European money list and by moving into the top 50 of the Sony world rankings he has earned an exemption into next month's Open at Sandwich.

Torrance led by three early on the final day, but Palmer started a remarkable run by sinking a 30ft birdie putt on the fifth. He eagled the next and birdied the seventh but even when he grabbed birdies on the 10th and 11th he still had some catching up to do.

A five-iron to five feet meant a two on the 190-yard 14th, an eight-iron to six feet led to a three at the 380-yard next and, after two-putting the long 16th, he delivered the final thrust, holing from 25 feet on the 17th.

'It's the best round under pressure I've ever played,' Palmer said. He also won in Bangkok with a 20 under par total, but struggled thereafter and finished only 45th on the 1992 Order of Merit.

'I was aware that a lot of people were probably thinking I was a flash- in-the-pan and I suffered a lot,' he said. 'I learnt a lot and this year I've played well.'

Torrance was breezing along nicely until he fluffed a chip on the ninth and bogeyed to have his lead trimmed to one. 'I wasn't really aware of Palmer until the 16th fairway,' he said. 'I couldn't believe he'd finished 20 under.'

It left Torrance needing to play the last three holes in three under just to tie and it was never likely after his eagle chip from the side of the 16th green hit the flag and stayed out.

Mark James, who chose to play in the event rather than the US Open, justified that decision by finishing third on 17 under. He jumps to second behind Torrance in the Order of Merit, but stays just ahead of him in the Ryder Cup points table. James is fifth, Torrance sixth.

EUROPEAN AIRWAYS OPEN (La Moye, Jersey) Leading final scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 268 I Palmer (SA) 68 67 70 63. 270 S Torrance 70 68 63 69. 271 M James 68 65 71 67. 272 J Payne 70 66 70 66; M Gates 72 67 67 66; G Turner (NZ) 66 69 69 68. 273 M Roe 68 70 66 69. 275 G Brand Jnr 67 67 73 68; R Drummond 65 69 72 69; C Mason 71 67 66 71; P Baker 70 64 69 72.

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