Twelve days away from his 40th birthday Denmark's Thomas Bjorn is a winner again on the European Tour – and back in the big league now. Ranked only 134th in the world, Bjorn captured the Qatar Masters by a commanding four strokes from Spaniard Alvaro Quiros yesterday.
The 11th Tour victory of his career should put the former Ryder Cup star, who was as high as 10th on the rankings a decade ago, into the elite 64-man field for the World Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month.
And it is a huge boost to his hopes of earning a place in this July's Open on the same Sandwich course where he blew a three-shot lead over the closing stretch in 2003. Bjorn, twice a Ryder Cup vice-captain and current chairman of the Tour's tournament committee, was thrilled to show he still has what it takes on the course.
"It's a big win and hopefully it can push me onto bigger things," he said after signing for a closing 69 and 14-under-par total of 274. "When I play like this I know I can play against the best."
While world No 1 Lee Westwood missed the cut and number two Martin Kaymer came only 28th – he needed a top-two finish to dethrone Westwood – Bjorn did not have a single bogey in his last 47 holes.
Big-hitting Quiros, first and second in the event the past two years, made a back-nine charge and closed the gap to one as Bjorn reeled off 14 pars in a row in the windy conditions. But, after Quiros three-putted the 470-yard 15th, Bjorn, armed with a new driver that gave him an extra 10 yards, hit a brilliant approach there to within four feet of the flag and then added further birdies on the driveable 16th and par-five 18th.
"I knew if I stuck to my game plan I would be all right. We're fortunate as golfers that we can keep going at the highest level at this age. I've worked hard."