Wayne's winning world

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BEFORE Wayne Riley made his lone bid for glory in the Scottish Open yesterday, the last Australian to have so many chasing him was Ned Kelly. But Riley stayed on the straight and narrow of Carnoustie's fairways to keep his pursuers panting in his wake and register his first win in Europe.

The posse was led by no less than Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie but although they whittled Riley's five shot lead down to two there was no questioning the value of his victory. Faldo made one three-birdie lunge that unsettled the Sydney man but Montgomerie was never close enough to give the crowd even a hint that a Scot would at last win this tournament.

But the Scottish supporters were delivered a hero when Gordon Sherry, the Amateur champion from Kilmarnock, returned a 69 that obliterated the challenge of Tiger Woods, the amateur superstar from America. The Scots will appreciate Sherry even more when they learn that he took a quid off Woods. They had a bet on who would finish higher and Woods, who shot a 75 yesterday, finished a full 10 strokes behind his rival.

Another success was Carnoustie's return to the big championship circuit. We were hoping for a wind yesterday to add an extra bite to Riley's defence of his overnight lead, but a gentle easterly breeze had to suffice. Over the four days, however, the weather changed enough to show Carnoustie in its various guises and many of us had our first experience of the wandering Tay mist called the haar by proud locals, which tended to hover around most days like an interfering busybody. It tended to make it a funny tournament weather-wise; not funny peculiar but funny haar haar.

But the steady fashion in which Riley clamped his grip on the tournament made it unlikely that any of the elements would divert him from a victory that removes a double burden from around his neck. The rebellious nature of his earlier days on the European Tour marked him as a wild colonial boy who would never allow his talent to shine. And when he did mature - "I now go to my room, read a book and do what a lot of boring golfers do," he says - there were severe doubts about his ability to clinch a win. He has let several good chances slip through his fingers, most notably at the Lyon Open last year when he took a three-shot lead into the final round and finished fourth.

When Faldo, who fell eight shots behind after the first five holes yesterday, hit back with four birdies to assume his expected menace, Riley landed a 25 footer on the 17th to send him comfortably across the Barry Burn to win. "I tried to frighten him," said Faldo, "but he hit too many good shots."

The Australian has flown back home to London to relax. He will return to Scotland on Tuesday to play in the Open, for which, thanks to his performance at Carnoustie, he no longer has to qualify - neither do Martin Gates, Katsuyoshi Tomori, Mark Davis and Olle Karlsson. Some will miss his hell- raising days but at least they've left a wealth of stories behind. At the final hole of the Jersey Open a few years ago, Riley's girlfriend at the time rushed across the green to give him an ice cream. Unfortunately, she was wearing high heels. Riley was fined; not for the heels but for swearing at her. Life will be a little duller now he has reformed.

Another star reformer who did well was Sam Torrance whose round of 70 yesterday sends him to the Open in good heart. "My game's very solid and I'm ready for next week," he said. "Although it was a disappointing finish, I content myself with the fact that I could never win three weeks running." He should be more concerned with hanging on to his cash at St Andrews tomorrow when he plays in a practice round with Sherry. "I'll be looking to take the money off Sam," said Sherry, who is big enough to be off to the Highland Games instead of the Open. Intent on finishing his final year at Stirling University, he has given no indication when he will turn professional.

But he need fear nothing after two weeks in which he has played 14 rounds of golf. The previous 10 helped Scotland to win the European Team Championships in Antwerp last weekend. His overshadowing of Woods yesterday has also boosted the Walker Cup chances of Great Britain and Ireland when they meet the United States at Royal Porthcawl in September.

"But Tiger wasn't on my mind today," said Sherry, "I was too busy trying to win the Scottish Open. In any case, I've already told our Walker Cup boys that we've got nothing to fear." There was more than one fresh talent brought out by Carnoustie.

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