Coltart ends drought

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Andrew Coltart breathed a huge sigh of relief after surviving a mid-round stumble to secure a long overdue second European Tour title in the Great North Open here.

Coltart scored a final-round 72 for an 11-under-par total of 277 and a one-shot victory over his fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher and the Englishman Paul Casey.

Bradley Dredge was on course to force a play-off until he ran up a double-bogey six on the 18th and had to settle for a share of fourth on nine under par alongside Darren Lee and Steve Webster.

"I'm delighted, it's been a while," admitted Coltart, whose only previous tour victory came over 300 rounds ago in the Qatar Masters in 1998. "It's very difficult to try and find the self-belief when you have very little to justify it. I'm almost doubly delighted that it was pretty horrible and I managed to keep my head and get the job done."

Coltart began the day three shots clear of the field but at one stage found himself two shots off the lead after bogeys at the eighth and ninth, while Lee had picked up four birdies in his opening 12 holes. Birdies at the 11th and 12th got him back on level terms before another bogey on the 12th dropped him back into a five-way tie for the lead.

Crucially for Coltart, however, of all the players in contention he was the only one with a tournament victory under his belt and as the rest faltered, a 15ft putt for a birdie on the 15th took him back to 11 under and alongside Dredge in the lead. Dredge then suffered a terrible stroke of luck on the 18th when his tee shot hit a spectator and ended in deep rough and the resulting six proved very costly.

Coltart had the advantage of watching the drama unfold from the fairway and knowing he needed just a par four to win, which he safely secured to claim the first prize of £133,330. That lifted him into 10th on the Order of Merit and eighth in the Ryder Cup standings.

By finishing second, Casey secured his playing privileges for the rest of the season and next year from only his fifth tournament appearance. The cheque of £69,480 added to his earnings from the other four events is enough to earn the 23-year-old a tour card and automatic entry into next week's Irish Open. Dredge would have matched Casey's 69 and forced a play-off but for the double bogey on 18.