The road travelled by Barry Lane since his last victory has been a particularly long and winding one but you would not have known from the way he won the British Masters yesterday. Though the eventual winning margin was three strokes, the moment of truth came at the 16th hole.
Lane had dropped his only shot of the day at the previous hole, cutting his advantage to two strokes, but found his drive in the rough to the right of the fairway. Two days before, Lane had only been able to chip sideways to the fairway from a similar position.
With Argentina's Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera breathing down his neck, the braver option had to be taken on. Lane's recovery cleared the pond in front of the green and left the Englishman with a birdie chance from 25 feet which he duly holed.
"That's the worst lie I've ever seen," he said. "I'm glad I've got strong forearms. I was aiming for the right corner of the green but it came out a little left but to get on to the green was unbelievable."
Lane, 44 next month, had chipped in for an eagle at the seventh to put him clear of the field and he finished with a 66 for 16 under par. Romero and Cabrera tied for second place, with Paul Broadhurst, the Atherstone man who was leading overnight, sharing fifth place.
This was Lane's 499th tournament on the European Tour but, unable to walk last Monday and with his left knee strapped all week, he almost did not play.
The last of his previous four official titles came over 10 years, or 252 events, ago in Spain. An unofficial victory, and $1million [£560,000], followed in the forerunner to the Accenture World Matchplay in 1995 but then nothing. Yesterday he won £266,660.
"This is a wonderful feeling," Lane said. "This is what we strive to do, win tournaments. I lost a bit of motivation and got fed up with all the travelling for a while but this year my attitude has been good. I never stopped believing in myself."
There were also some minor prizes to be decided, if a luxury car, worth £32,000, can be so described. It was on offer for the nearest to the pin at the 211-yard 18th hole and Raymond Russell, out in the first group of the day, set the target when he hit a five-wood to within three feet and six inches.
The Scot then had to wait around for almost seven hours to see whether he was beaten but the only man to come close was Darren Clarke, whose effort finished a mere 11 inches further away.
Clarke closed with a 65 after playing the last five holes in four under which helped bring the total raised for Sport Relief to £12,000. Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee produced that rare bird, an albatross, at the par-five 17th, holing his second shot from 243 yards with a three-wood. Jaidee won a case of champagne for his efforts. He is a teetotaller.
Colin Montgomerie was again lifted by the warmth of the crowd's reaction and was glad to get his first tournament since announcing the break-up of his marriage out of the way. Though Montgomerie was not sure when he would once again don his "competitive hat", he may be spending more time on the practice range.
"It has been a very difficult week but now I can move on with confidence," the Scot said. "I've got a lot of time on my hands now so you may see me practising an awful lot more. You never know, it may help."
BRITISH MASTERS (Forest of Arden) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 272 B Lane 70 69 67 66. 275 A Cabrera (Arg) 70 68 70 67; E Romero (Arg) 67 68 71 69. 276 P Sjoland (Swe) 69 65 73 69 (£80;000). 277 A Hansen (Den) 69 71 72 65; D Clarke 70 73 69 65; N O'Hern (Aus) 69 68 72 68; P Broadhurst 69 70 66 72. Selected: 280 P Casey 72 70 69 69. 281 P McGinley 70 72 70 69. 282 C Montgomerie 72 69 70 71; I Woosnam 70 70 70 72. 283 I Poulter 73 71 68 71; D Howell 66 73 71 73.Reuse content