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Tuesday, 28 April 1998
Bjorn took the lead from Spaniard José Maria Olázabal and Australian overnight leader Greg Chalmers at the 16th when he chipped in for his third consecutive birdie and eighth birdie of the day. Olazábal’s, who seemed to hold the advantage after hitting his second shot to eight feet, then left his birdie putt an inch short of the hole.

It was the second win of the year for the 27-year-old Ryder Cup player following his victory in the Heineken Classic in Perth and comes after a five week break from competitive golf.

He said: “I didn’t really expect this after taking five weeks off, but when your confidence has gone like mine did after winning in Perth, it just shows it’s best to take a break and regroup. I feel my game has improved so much that I can take on the best in the world now and when the chance comes I know I will do well in a major.”

The leading three players and Argentina’s Eduardo Romero traded places at the top of the leaderboard but it was Bjorn who took the chances to secure the £91,660 first prize.

He ended playing partner Olazábal’s chances of winning a first Open de España title, as the Spaniard had to settle for a 67 for joint second with Chalmers, whose 69 was not quite good enough for his maiden European Tour victory.

Olazábal hit five birdies in the first 12 holes to move two clear of the field but was unable to add to that tally over the closing stretch as Bjorn passed him with three birdies. He said: “The 14th and 16th are two of the hardest holes on the course, and what Thomas did is the difference between winning and losing tournaments.

“I had the flavour of victory on my lips. I don’t like to finish second - and other number but second. I am more than sad.”

Chalmers narrowly missed a birdie chance from 15 feet at the last to force a playoff, his ball agonisingly spinning out of the hole. “I played pretty solid and never backed off even if it was my first chance of winning. I didn’t really do a lot wrong, just missed a couple of greens badly towards the end and that was it,” he said.

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