Edfors' sensational 63 boosts Ryder charge
Monday 17 July 2006
Sweden's Johan Edfors fired a sensational eight-under-par final round of 63 here at the Scottish Open yesterday to finish 13-under-par, bag the £400,000 winner's cheque and propel himself to the fringes of the Ryder Cup team. But for a solitary bogey on the 17th - which came after nine birdies, including six on the way out - he would have equalled Retief Goosen's course record of 62.
The 30-year-old from Varberg has now won three of his last 10 events, making him the first man on the European Tour this season to win that many times. He took the British Masters in May to add to his first Tour title, the TCL Classic in China in March.
The manner of his win was as stylish as his entourage, which included his own gourmet chef from Gothenburg. He started yesterday in a share of 24th place, six strokes behind the overnight leaders, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn. He was back in the clubhouse - and then out practising for a potential play-off - more than two hours before Clarke and Bjorn finished with one-over rounds of 72.
The final pair, close friends who mirrored each other's topsy-turvy afternoons, both bogeyed the last hole to finish on 10-under for a share of fifth place. In a traumatic season for Clarke - one in which his sport has naturally come second to the battle of his wife, Heather, with breast cancer, and his last-day jitters have got the better of him several times - it was another case of "tell me why I don't like Sundays".
For the first three holes, it seemed he might have overcome the aversion. He birdied holes two and three to go 13-under but five bogeys - two on the way out and three on the way back - ended his chances.
With Bjorn and Clarke both dropping a shot each at the last, England's Luke Donald, South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and Argentina's Andres Romero shared second on 11-under.
Donald compiled a confidence-boosting 66 ahead of the Open at Hoylake. "I continue to get better every year and my expectations are up as well," he said of the task ahead. "The ambition is there and I want to win it. It's about time we had a European winner."
Schwartzel hit a 67, while Romero's 69 was sufficient to earn him the last place at Hoylake as the best-placed non-exempt player here. "It's a dream come true," Romero said.
As things stand this morning, yesterday's success puts Edfors in 11th place in the list for the 10 automatic slots in September's Ryder Cup team.
"It would be an honour to represent Europe," he said. "I've been dreaming of that since I was a little kid. I haven't really been close before so, if it happens, it happens."
Of more immediate concern is the Open. "I was there last Monday and played a practice round, and I'm really looking forward to my first Open," he said. "It's going to be a completely different type of golf down there. It will come down to putting. If it's windy, it's going to be very, very tough. [But] I'm really happy with the way I've been playing. When my putting is on, I'm tough to beat."
Asked whether he could be tempted to invest any of his £400,000 on a wager on himself at Hoylake at the updated [and trimmed] odds of 100-1, he said: "Why not?"
If there was a blot on Edfors' tournament here, it was Saturday's third round, a three-over 74. He laughed that off as "rubbish" yesterday, attributing it to an unlucky choice of dinner on Friday. He had fish. There was nothing wrong with it but, after returning to meat on Saturday night, his beefed-up showing yesterday spoke for itself.
Edfors joked that he will now consider taking the chef - the top man at a Michelin-starred restaurant back home - with him wherever he goes.
The cook in question was actually only here because Edfors and his girlfriend, Cecilia, hired him as a present for someone else.
Edfors' father, Bengt, and brother-in-law, Nicklas, have respectively been celebrating their 60th and 40th birthdays with a week by the bonnie banks.
Their relative's success rated as an unqualified bonus.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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