Edfors stands tall as rivals join comedy club

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Johan Edfors, who once had the England manager's son as his caddie, prevailed in a bizarre final day of the British Masters here. The Football Association may just be interested in the rapid incline this Swedish golfer's fortunes have taken since getting shot of an Eriksson.

When Edfors did have Sven's boy - also named Johan - on his bag his achievements were so miniscule that the Malaga resident was forced to go back to Tour school last November. As soon as he sacked him, Edfors improved so quickly and so remarkably that victory yesterday was his second Tour title in his past six tournaments.

"At last I have proved myself in a really good field," said Edfors and he was one of the few right to feel satisfied leaving here as so many of his rivals bemoaned a huge missed opportunity.

For a start there was his playing partner, Darren Clarke, who was one behind the lead with five holes remaining before a timid retreat. There was Michael Campbell, whose 73 was a great deal less than you might expect from the reigning US Open champion. But most obviously there was Paul Casey. In a golfing comedy of errors he was chief clown. Starting the day, the Englishman was five ahead of the eventual winner; 76 wholly unsatisfactory shots later Casey could not even hang on to finish in a tie for second with Jarmo Sandelin, Stephen Gallacher and the unlikely figure of Gary Emerson, the Dorset veteran who earned the biggest cheque of his career. A red-faced Casey was left sharing fifth with Campbell. How he arrived there was mediocrity in motion, front-running in embarrassing reverse.

Before the ninth yesterday Casey had dropped just three shots in 62 holes. Then he blew four in the next three, bogeys at the ninth and 11th flanking a numb-skulled double bogey at the 10th. Standing on that tee he held a three-shot advantage over Campbell - whose putter had just started committing a series of atrocities - but instead of laying up in front of the lake he went for the green with a five wood. Bad decision. "I'd do it again," Casey declared afterwards. Well, that would be a very bad decision. For all it served to do was turn a one-horse race into a veritable stampede in which Edfors was to be the surest of foot.

Not that the tension did not get to this 30-year-old, as signified by his charging of a 20-footer on the par-five 15th. But when the hole consented to get in the way, stopping the ball from going at least eight feet past, fate had chosen its man. The 25-footer for a birdie four on the 17th merely underlined its wish and even his tentative bogey on the last could not deny him.

The £300,000 first prize takes Edfors into the top five of the Order of Merit and makes him an intriguing challenger for the Ryder Cup. "I told my manager this morning I only needed two wins to get in," the Swede said. "I'm halfway there now." But paradise remains in the distance.