Golf: Woosnam banks on confidence trick for Open

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The Independent Online
With its unique place in the schedule, a week before the big one, all sorts of significance is read into performances at the Scottish Open. A high finish is perhaps ideal, the theory being not to "waste" a victory a week too early. Ian Woosnam has never won the Open, but he has now won the Scottish Open three times.

After his two previous victories in 1987 and 1990, he went on to be tied eighth at Muirfield and tied fourth at St Andrews. Woosnam immediately boarded his private jet to return home for some quiet practice in Jersey before venturing to Royal Lytham. "I am not going to expect too much," he said. "I am just going to try to enjoy it. It would mean a lot to win the Open. It has always been my dream to win it. Winning the Scottish helps the confidence."

His third win of the season, after two in the first fortnight, puts him pounds 60,000 short of Colin Montgomerie at the top of the Volvo rankings. Each time the Welshman has won the Scottish he has gone on to win the money title, and he is now keen to halt Monty's march to a fourth successive win. "At the start of the season I just wanted to win again after not winning last year. Now the money is a definite goal."

The one thing you do not want to do the week before the Open is play your way out of form, but that was almost impossible as another stiff wind blew at Carnoustie. Woosnam closed with a 75 for a one-over total of 289, the first over par winning score on tour for 11 years.

"Before I started, I thought a 76 would be enough," Woosnam said. "It was really tough. Putting from four or five feet was difficult and I was trying to hit the ball so low that I topped three shots in a row. The course played as a true links. You had to accept your bad shots and try to take advantage of your good ones."

Montgomerie began with eight straight pars and then dropped six shots in three holes. At the 11th he took three swipes to get back on the fairway. He ended with an 81 and his prospects for the Open, in which he has missed the cut in the last four years, look bleak.

"I was just one of many players who struggled to break 80," he said. "My swing is destroyed for next week. I simply don't know where the ball is going off the tee. My record in the Open is the worst of any of the top players and I have no confidence."

Andrew Coltart, with a 74, moved forward by the considerable virtue of not going too far backwards. Russell Claydon, who played in the last group with Woosnam, finished with an 80 then lost a three-man play-off to Andrew Sherborne for the last exemption for the Open. The other places went to Lee Westwood, Malcolm Mackenzie, Mats Hallberg and Diego Borrego.

Raymond Floyd fired a seven-under-par 65 to open a four-stroke lead over Hale Irwin going into the final round of the Ford Senior Players Championship at Dearborn, Michigan, the last major event on the Senior PGA Tour. The 53-year-old Floyd made seven birdies to take the lead with a 14-under 202.

Scottish Open final scores, Digest, page 19