Casey keeps Montgomerie at bay

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The Independent Online

Paul Casey, unrecognisable from the golfer who was in a nightmare slump this time last year, held off Colin Montgomerie and the rest of the chasing pack to win the Johnnie Walker Championship here yesterday.

Back at the scene of his maiden European Tour win in 2001 - his rookie season as a professional - Casey survived what he called a "nerve-racking" closing stretch after it looked as though he might lose a four-stroke lead. But the 28-year-old's one-under-par 72 proved just good enough for a one-stroke victory over fellow Englishman Andrew Marshall and Denmark's Soren Hansen.

Montgomerie, who lost last week's US Open after double-bogeying the final hole, was also one behind with two to play but this time bogeyed the short 17th and by failing to birdie the 533-yard 18th had to share fourth spot with another Dane, Thomas Bjorn.

The win, worth £233,330, lifts Casey to fifth place in the Ryder Cup race and closes the gap on David Howell at the top of the Order of Merit. His joy was mixed with relief as he collected the trophy. Casey's game was in tatters a year ago, an opening 85 at the US Open coming during a spell when he did not make a cut from April until August. But he won the China Open at the end of last year and since February has finished no lower than 20th in any tournament.

"It feels fantastic," he said. "To play with Colin in Scotland in the final group on a Sunday is a treat, very special, and it's difficult when you have a guy like him breathing down your neck."

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