England's Ross Fisher completed a memorable marathon effort by beating American Ryder Cup player Anthony Kim to become Volvo World Match Play champion in Spain yesterday.
The 28-year-old, with high hopes of making his Ryder Cup debut in Wales next October, won the final 4 & 3 after playing an amazing 126 holes in four days. Ian Poulter had it easy in Singapore by comparison. He was required to play only 72.
Fisher's success stopped Kim, 24 in June, eclipsing Seve Ballesteros as the youngest-ever winner of the tournament. It also means, while the World Match Play has now left Wentworth after being staged there from 1964 until two years ago, the trophy is going straight back.
Fisher, a member at the Surrey club since his boyhood days, is up to a career-best 17th in the world as a result - only hours after Poulter's one-shot win took him to a best-ever 15th.
Earning a cheque for nearly £676,000 also takes last year's European Open champion to fourth on this season's Order of Merit and he could go top by winning the HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Sunday.
''I'm absolutely ecstatic,''Fisher said. ''It's been a long, gruelling week, but obviously very worthwhile. This course was very physically demanding and I don't think I am the fittest of blokes out here. I know I need to work a lot more in the gym.
''The only thing that's been missing this year was a win. I feel I've been very consistent and to be the leading guy in the majors [in terms of shots taken] shows my golf has been very good.''
After coming close to winning the US Open and then leading the Open early on the final day – his hopes crashed with a quadruple-bogey eight – Fisher became a father for the first time a week later.
That may have had something to do with him being slow off the blocks in the Ryder Cup qualifying race but that has all changed now. He has charged from 107th to fifth in one mighty leap. Even if Fisher ends up needing a wild card, captain Colin Montgomerie will have surely noted that his performance in Spain came after he reached the semi-finals of the Accenture match play in Arizona in February.
This time he went further by overcoming Masters champion Angel Cabrera at the third extra hole and was never behind in the final from the moment he birdied the first.''I think this format suits me,'' he added. ''I'm quite an aggressive player". It was a policy that paid dividends on the 22nd and 23rd. First he drove to the back of the green on the 334-yard par four and holed a 35-footer for eagle, then he two-putted the next for a birdie that took him three clear.
Kim responded with a 15-foot putt but three-putted the next two – the second after missing from less than two feet. Fisher was then in danger of losing the 27th but made a 20-footer with his opponent only five feet away.
Kim went four down with four to play when Fisher birdied the 32nd. Victory came when Fisher matched Kim's par four on the next.Reuse content