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Friday, 19 March 2010
Denmark's Thomas Björn defends his Heineken Classic title at the magnificent Vines Resort in Perth, Western Australia.

A year ago, the great Dane provided further evidence that he had matured into a world class player when he edged out a posse of players including Ian Woosnam, Ernie Els and José Maria Olazábal to win his second European Tour event.

His winning total of 280, eight under par, secured the title by a solitary shot from 1996 champion Ian Woosnam. It was a quality performance by a quality golfer and Björn wasted little time in confirming that by capturing the Peugeot Open de España two months later.

At the time, Björn admitted: "Winning my first European Tour event at Loch Lomond in 1996 was very important to my career. But to win for a second time is special. This will give my confidence a huge boost and I'm aiming for bigger things."

The powerful Dane is one of three of the winning 1997 European Ryder Cup side competing in the Heineken Classic, the third stop on the 1999 itinerary following two tournaments in South Africa.

Woosnam also has a special affinity with The Vines. Three years ago the former Masters champion opened the 1996 season with a flourish, beating Andrew Coltart in a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Classic on the opening week then completing back-to-back victories with a one-shot win in the Heineken Classic from Paul McGinley and Jean Van de Velde.

Twelve months later, Woosnam finished sixth behind Miguel Angel Martin, despite a closing 66, then pushed Björn all the way in 1998, missing out on his second Heineken Classic crown by a stroke after a closing 76.

Another former Masters winner, Bernhard Langer, joins South African Ernie Els, a four-shot winner of the Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship at Houghton Golf Club a fortnight ago, in the field.
Els was another player who tackled Björn for the 1998 title but a final 71 left him in a four-way tie for third place with Olazábal, Peter Baker and Padraig Harrington, who established a new course record of 63 in 1997.

However the newly-wed Els, recently accorded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour in recognition of his two US Opens and three World Match Play titles, proved at Houghton that his close season break had not blunted his competitive edge.

Also playing in a highly competitive event in Perth are Ryder Cup men Baker, Sam Torrance, Joakim Haeggman, Steven Richardson, and Paul Broadhurst.

Coventry's Steve Webster, winner of the Amateur Medal in the 1995 Open at St.Andrews, plays just two weeks after collecting a share of third place behind Els in the Alfred Dunhill SA PGA.

The Vines Resort, nestled in superb bushland in the picturesque Swan Valley wine growing regions, has set a new standard in Western Australian resort complexes and real estate developments.

The resort has hosted top golf tournaments since its inception, starting with the Vines Classic in 1990, and now the internationally-acclaimed Heineken Classic.

Australia's Robert Allenby, winner of four European Tour titles, claimed the 'Heineken' in 1995 with a ten under par score of 278 at The Vines, where the final three holes are guaranteed to test ability and nerves to the full.

The Championship test for the Heineken Classic is a composite of the Ellenbrook course for the front nine holes and the Lakes course. It is a finely balanced, demanding test which winds along the banks of the beautiful Ellenbrook, through gently undulating natural bushland and with three dramatic lakes around the resort centre.

The composite course measures 7,101 yards, with all four of the par fives ranging from 517 yards to 591 yards in length. All are stern tests for even the longest hitters.

Seven of the ten par fours are over 400 yards and the four short holes, measuring between 170 and 219 yards, comprise an extremely high examination of accuracy.

The most scenic hole on the course is probably the 413-yards seventh. Gum trees border the fairway and deep bunkers guarding the green on the right make it dangerous to allow the spectacular view to interrupt the concentration.

The finish to the golf course is designed to sort the men from the boys. The 196-yards 16th, 427-yards 17th and 517-yards 18th combine to provide the kind of finish which can - and has - altered the outcome of a tournament.

The 16th green is over 50 yards long and sits hard against an intimidating lake on the right, just waiting to punish any wayward shot from the tee.

Water skirts the left side of the 17th, to add to the pressure of the finishing stretch.Those bold enough to take a driver can be rewarded with a relatively straightforward approach to the green.

The closing hole has the capacity in itself to settle any tournament - offering an eagle opportunity for anyone brave enough to take on the water guarding the green. A perfect finish to a superb course, ensuring drama and excitement on the European Tour's only visit Down Under this season.

Location: 30 minutes from the City of Perth.

Course Record: 63 (-9) Padraig Harrington 1997.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LANGER, BernhardGER18-13
2RILEY, WayneAUS18-4
3SENIOR, PeterAUS18-3
4LANNER, MatsSWE18-2
5GRADY, WayneAUS18Par
T6CLAYTON, MikeAUS181
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