Bjorn does the double
Thomas Bjorn, who sealed his place in the WGC-HSBC Champions with his win in the Johnnie Walker a week ago, yesterday collected another equally prestigious title - the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre.
"To win two weeks in a row is something for few to do," said the 40-year-old Dane. "I can't really put words on it."
For a long time, it looked as if there could be another play-off along the lines of the five-man, five-hole affair which left Bjorn so mentally spent at Gleneagles. But the player avoided such a situation by the simple expedient of making three birdies and an eagle in his last five holes to finish with a 62 and a 20-under-par tally of 264. He wound up four clear of Martin Kaymer, who had been upsides with him on the leader-board for much of the day, and five ahead of Rory McIlroy, Jaco Van Zyl and Jamie Donaldson.
"It's been a remarkable couple of weeks and a remarkable season," said Bjorn, who flew back to Sweden last night to spend time with the family. "Sometimes, you forget to make the most of a win, so I'm going home to enjoy last week and this week. And to celebrate the fact that I'm back playing the way I want to play. I was as good as anybody coming down the stretch today."
Bjorn did not mind saying that he had enjoyed more than a touch of luck at the par-five 14th. In the knowledge that Lee Westwood and McIlroy in the leading group would certainly be going for the green in two, he endeavoured to do the same, only to push his shot towards the lake.
The spectators, no less than the player, held their breath but, to sighs of relief all round, the ball finished just a couple of feet over the water. The situation saved, Bjorn then hit to six-feet and holed for a birdie.
Still better was to come up at the par-five 15th where, after bisecting the fairway off the tee, he dispatched a well-nigh perfect three-iron, one which finished 12 feet to pave the way for his eagle.
When Bjorn walked on to the 18th green, he took a long, hard look at the leader-board. He had heard that Donaldson had dropped a shot at the 17th but he wanted to make doubly sure. With things as they were, he could afford to take two putts or even three and still win "but I didn't let up because you never know what is going to happen in golf...I had been focussed for five hours and I stayed that way to make one more birdie."
This was the first week of the Ryder Cup points table for next year's match at Medinah and Bjorn has got off to the best possible start. "There is an awful long way to go," ventured this winner of a total of 13 European Tour titles. "We have got a remarkable pool of talent at the moment but we will take it a step at a time. If I can keep playing well and stay healthy I've got a chance but the last thing I want is to get ahead of myself."
America's Todd Hamilton, the former Open champion who was playing in Switzerland, made the best fist of explaining how over 40s such as Darren Clarke and Bjorn have been having such a good time of it.
"When you're over 40," said Hamilton, "nothing surprises you any longer. You've seen every golfing situation there is."
He added that the older player knows not to get too up or too down whatever his position. "Unlike some of his younger rivals, he doesn't get on a high if he starts with a handful of birdies - and he doesn't get mad at himself if he starts with a few bogeys."
Intriguingly, Bjorn was as many as two over par after his first four holes at Crans on his way to finishing at 20 under.
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