Golf: Romero scales new heights in the Alps: Argentine upsets Gallacher's plans as young Swede hits peak form

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The Independent Online
THIS was not the dream start that Bernard Gallacher, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, was hoping for. The Canon European Masters, the first tournament to count towards selection for the biennial match against the United States in 12 months' time, was won here yesterday by a neutral, the Argentine Eduardo Romero. In Switzerland, perhaps it was an appropriate result.

Crans, a golf course in summer which resorts to skiing in winter, is a downhill experience for the modern professional. Of the 75 players who survived the half-way cut, only three finished over par. The par for the course masquerades as 72 but that is optimistically high.

In 1984 Jerry Anderson, the Canadian, won with an aggregate of 261, 27 under par. That was the peak of Anderson's career. This week he shot 72, 76 and missed the cut by seven strokes.

Yesterday Romero, who began the final round two strokes in front of Pierre Fulke and three in front of the Scots Sam Torrance and Gordon Brand Jnr, shot a moderate 68 to put him at 22 under par. He won by one from Fulke, by three from Torrance, Barry Lane and Jean Van de Velde and by four from Nick Faldo and Martin Gates. At this rate Fulke, only 23, is going to feature in Gallacher's plans. He is currently No 1 in the Ryder Cup table with pounds 74,150. Fulke experienced life at altitude on the leaderboard during the Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm, and the Swede featured prominently here. He is obviously a fast learner. Fulke (pronounced Fulkay), from Nykoping, went into the lead in the fourth round with three birdies in the first four holes but there was a crucial turnaround at the par-four fifth. He had a birdie putt from five feet and missed; Romero holed from three feet for a three and then birdied the next two holes for good measure to regain the lead. He never lost it from thereon. Romero - this was his sixth victory in Europe and his biggest purse, pounds 111,290 - went to the turn in 33, as did Fulke, while the third member of the group, Brand Jnr, went out in 37. Romero, 17 years Fulke's senior, had a worrying moment at the 12th where he had a bogey five to Fulke's three. 'I thought I could still beat him,' Fulke said. That thought disappeared at the 14th where Romero, after driving into rough, hit a three wood 265 yards to within 15 feet of the flag.

Crans, clearly, is an easy number, for Sandy Lyle finished at 14 under par for the championship, one in front of the local amateur Francisco Valera. 'It's the sort of course where if you play well anything can happen,' Faldo said after the third round. 'Who knows?' Faldo, who was playing with Torrance and the defending champion Lane, shot 68 which included the hiccups of a bogey five at the fourth and another at the 10th.

Although the conditions were infinitely better than on the first three rounds when a St Bernard, with a little barrel of brandy, would have made the ideal partner, the scoring was not. Stephen McAllister's 65 was the lowest score and Seve Ballesteros, who had nothing to spare in making the cut, had a 66.

He threatened better than that with an eagle three at the first. 'I could have shot 62,' Ballesteros said, echoing the thoughts of others, Faldo included. On Thursday Ballesteros plays in the European Open at East Sussex and the Spaniard might be worth an each-way flutter.

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