Golf: Woosnam gets ticket to Ryder: Welshman's English Open win secures place in Europe's Belfry team

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The Independent Online
IAN WOOSNAM, who at the beginning of the week said he was 'sick and tired' of the Ryder Cup, played his way into the European team for the match against the United States at The Belfry in a month's time when he won the Murphy's English Open here yesterday.

Woosnam, who has played in five Ryder Cups, won pounds 100,000 to move from 10th to fourth in the table. The Welshman made the job of Bernard Gallacher, the captain, somewhat easier with a timely return to form. In taking the cream at the Murphy's he recorded his first victory since winning the Monte Carlo Open 13 months' ago. Costantino Rocca, the 36-year-old Italian who finished runner up to Woosnam in Monte Carlo in 1989, was second again here but the compensation was considerable. Rocca won pounds 66,660 to move to fifth place in the standings, thus becoming the first Italian to play in the Cup.

'He goes for his shots and he'll be a hard man to beat,' Woosnam said of Rocca. Woosnam, who began the day at 13 under par for the championship, a stroke adrift of Rocca, shot 66 to win by two at 19 under from the former caddie from Bergamo and by three from the 46 year old Jose-Maria Canizares.

Gallacher, who has been on holiday for the past week, said: 'I'm absolutely delighted for Ian. His confidence is back now he's regained his touch on the greens. There is no question that his experience will be a plus factor for us at The Belfry.' Woosnam, who won the Masters in 1991, had five birdies on the front nine and had taken the lead by the fifth hole. He never looked like losing it although he was slightly concerned when Canizares had a eagle two at the 13th, holing a five-iron from 160 yards.

'It's been a while,' Woosnam said. 'I wasn't as nervous as I've sometimes been in the past. Because I'm putting better it helped me to relax. It's my putting that's been holding me back.' He experimented with a new method here, keeping his left side locked in position. 'It's nice to go into the Ryder Cup knowing that you're playing well,' Woosnam said. 'It will give Rocca a lot of confidence as well. I wasn't sure about him. I thought he was getting a bit edgy under the pressure but he's proved he can handle it.'

Jose-Maria Olazabal, who did not play here and who is not entered to play in the Volvo German Open in Dusseldorf this week, the final tournament to count towards qualification, has dropped to 10th place. 'The responsibility is now on Olazabal's shoulders,' Woosnam said. 'Mine's been taken off. It's up to him.' When Olazabal played in the US PGA Championship at Inverness two weeks ago he indicated that he would not go to Germany. 'The captain will pick me if he thinks I'm good enough,' Olazabal said.

The promotion of Woosnam and Rocca pushed several players down the order. Peter Baker, who had been eighth in the table, completed an interesting championship with rounds of 74, 65, 77 and 66, the latter equalling Woosnam's best score of the day. Baker dropped from eighth to ninth while Ronan Rafferty has made dramatic late progress. Rafferty, who played in the Cup at The Belfry in 1989, won in Austria last week and yesterday birdies at the last two holes meant that he finished joint fourth. Rafferty has moved up to 11th place.

In contrast Joakim Haeggman, who was in a position to consolidate his place in the table, hit his ball into the water at the 16th and 17th holes to drop two strokes and he fell from 12th to 13th place in the table. In addition to making a little bit of Ryder Cup history, Rocca has jumped to second in the Volvo Order of Merit.

Woosnam was quickly into his stride against a nervous Rocca and the Welshman had three birdies in the first five holes. At the second he hit a wedge to six inches, at the par-five third reached the green in two and at the short fifth he holed from eight feet for a two. Although he had a bogey at the sixth he had another two at the eighth, making a 25 foot putt and another birdie at the ninth where he hit a six-iron approach to six feet.

Woosnam went to the turn in 32 to Rocca's 35. Woosnam had three more birdies heading for home, holing from six, 15 and eight feet at the 12th, 15th and 17th and he could afford to drop a stroke at the last. Both he and Rocca came back in 34. Canizares won pounds 37,560 to salvage a wretched season. Prior to the English Open he had played in 13 events and missed the cut in eight of them. This is one Spaniard who will almost certainly not feature in Gallacher's plans.

MURPHY'S ENGLISH OPEN (Forest of Arden) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 269 I Woosnam 71 67 65 66. 271 C Rocca (It) 70 68 64 69. 272 J-M Canizares (Sp) 66 71 66 69. 278 R Rafferty 73 68 69 68; D Clarke 68 72 68 70. 279 P Mitchell 70 72 69 68; B Marchbank 70 69 74 66; P-U Johansson (Swe) 68 73 69 69; M Roe 69 73 67 70. 280 R Goosen (SA) 74 67 70 69; H Clark 71 69 68 72; J Haeggman (Swe) 70 69 68 73. 281 A Bossert (Swit) 72 72 68 69; P Broadhurst 69 73 69 70; S Lyle 72 70 69 70; P Curry 69 70 71 71; T Johnstone (Zim) 66 71 73 71; S Richardson 67 72 70 72; J Rivero (Sp) 69 69 70 73; J Hawkes (SA) 70 68 69 74. 282 P Baker 74 65 77 66; D Hospital (Sp) 75 68 71 68. 283 D Gilford 70 70 71 72; G Brand Jnr 71 69 71 72; V Fernandez (Arg) 69 71 71 72. 284 G Orr 70 71 72 71; M James 69 73 71 71; J Parnevik (Swe) 72 69 71 72; M Clayton (Aus) 73 70 69 72; J Robson 69 72 70 73; G Evans 72 70 69 73; D Feherty 69 74 68 73. 285 W Westner (SA) 71 70 73 71; E Romero (Arg) 71 73 71 70; G Cali (It) 69 72 74 70; P Fulke (Swe) 72 70 71 72; P Fowler (Aus) 68 71 73 73; F Nobilo (NZ) 69 72 70 74; R Allenby (Aus) 72 70 68 75.

EUROPEAN RYDER CUP STANDINGS (One point for every pounds 1 won): 1 N Faldo 513,022.50; 2 C Montgomerie 451,988.08; 3 B Langer (Ger) 412,108.98; 4 I Woosnam 374,938.12; 5 C Rocca (It) 371,257.25; 6 B Lane 369,382.75; 7 M James 345,385.08; 8 S Torrance 326,929.20; 9 P Baker 306,209.17; 10 J-M Olazabal (Sp) 282,488.14; 11 R Rafferty 276,575.99; 12 M Roe 270,965.74; 13 J Haeggman (Swe) 267,683.43; 14 P Broadhurst 262,856.84; 15 A Forsbrand (Swe) 261,223.26; 16 S Richardson 252,636.24; 17 J Spence 242,343.31; 18 G Brand Jnr 236,623.93; 19 D Gilford 224,498.57; 20 J Parnevik (Swe) 222,062.65.

(Photograph omitted)

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