American Dudley Hart flew off on a delayed honeymoon with $360,000 extra spending money in his pocket after capturing the Subaru Sarazen World Open title at Chateau Elan, Georgia. The 30 year old from West Palm Beach fired a 16 under par total of 272 to overhaul third round leader Bob Tway and take the title by a four shot margin over the Legends course. Hart, winner of the Bell Canadian Open in 1996, equalled defending champion Mark Calcavecchia’s course record of 62 in the third round to mount his challenge and completed a successful week with a closing 69.
Tway, ahead after the first and third rounds and second at halfway, faded with a 74 to collect $210,000 as runner-up while Bernhard Langer led a highly creditable deputation from the European Tour by shooting three rounds in the sixties to take third place on 277, five behind the winner. In fact, European Tour members filled five of the top ten positions, with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Andrew Coltart sharing fifth place, Peter O’Malley taking eighth and Greg Turner tied for ninth.
Hart, who had stormed to the turn in an amazing eight under par 28 on Saturday, took 33 blows to cover that same stretch in the final round. By that stage, he had converted a one shot deficit into a four hole lead which he never looked like relinquishing. Tway, by contrast, turned in 38, handicapped by a double bogey six at the fourth from which he could not recover.
Hart, who had to withdraw early in the same event twelve months ago with a pulled back muscle, had no such problems this time around. After receiving the trophy from "The Squire", Gene Sarazen, he admitted: "I’m going off on a delayed honeymoon bright and early in the morning. Suzanne and I got married at the end of July. She wanted a summer wedding and didn’t mind if we waited until the end of the golf season so I could enjoy the honeymoon as well. And I won’t be taking my golf clubs!". It was ultimately a comfortable victory for Hart, who paid tribute to the wonderful old gentleman, in whose honour the tournament is named. He said: "To win the Sarazen means a great deal. He is one of the all-time great players and to win a tournament with his name on it is very special. I feel honoured. I had never even met him before he handed me the trophy."
Tway, who shot 66 on days one and three to lead on each occasion, commented: "I had a legitimate chance to win but didn’t perform very well. I didn’t put any pressure on Dudley. He played a nice round and did exactly what he needed to do."
Langer, still without a victory in 1998 and with just two more opportunities before he packs away his clubs for the winter, was always in contention - despite missing out on a practice round. He played the course ‘blind’ in the first round, but a 68 set him up for a handsome pay-day on Sunday, when he returned an identical score which did not contain a single bogey. Langer explained: "I had to do some company days in Europe and just flew in the night before. I hadn’t seen the course but my caddie, Peter Coleman, did the yardages and pointed me in the right direction!"
Coltart, who will represent Scotland along with Colin Montgomerie in next week’s World Cup of Golf, limbered up for that prestigious event in New Zealand with another polished performance in Georgia. He followed his second place in the Volvo Masters by carding three rounds in the sixties to join Jimenez on 279, both men collecting $67,500 each. Coltart’s five-birdie inward half of 31 on the last day equalled the best of the week. Jimenez, who has enjoyed his best season on the European Tour, taking fourth place in the Volvo Ranking, might have been even higher but for an untimely six at the 14th on Sunday afternoon. There were strong finishes, too, for Peter Mitchell of England (tied 11th on 284) and Irishman Padraig Harrington, who shared 13th, one stroke further behind. Former Amateur champion, Gordon Sherry, also deserves an honourable mention for putting behind him the disappointment of missing out on a place in the final European Tour Qualifying School next week. The big Scot broke the record for the number of par figures in the five-year history of the Subaru Sarazen World Open, making 56 in total (one better than the old mark) to tie for 20th on 289 and picking up $20,000 in the process.