Dean Robertson accomplished a lifetime’s ambition when he claimed his first European Tour title with a one stroke victory over Padraig Harrington in the Fiat and Fila Italian Open at Circolo Golf, Torino.
The 28-year-old from Paisley maintained the remarkably high percentage of first time winners in 1999 when he became the seventh debut champion to succeed from 12 European Tour events this season.
Robertson follows in the footsteps of Jarrod Moseley, Gerry Norquist, David Howell, Van Phillips, Pedro Linhart and Jeff Remesy after a composed final round of 68 secured one of the oldest and most prestigious titles with a 17-under-par total of 271.
Harrington finished runner-up after a closing 70, one stroke behind the Scot, with Russell Claydon, Gary Evans and Phil Price sharing third spot on 273 ahead of four players tied for sixth a further stroke behind. In fact, the ?51,666 which Evans won represented his largest cheque since joining the European Tour in 1992.
Robertson won with considerable aplomb from a quality field containing four major champions, including a resurgent Seve Ballesteros, new Masters champion José Maria Olazábal, two-time US Open champion Lee Janzen and double Masters winner Bernhard Langer.
Janzen finished in a tie for 66th place and that fact was not lost on Robertson, who commented: “I reckon Mr Janzen would have got a surprise with the quality of the European Tour. It’s a fantastic course but not an easy one and it proves how well you have to play when the cut falls at two under par.”
The low cut almost provided the story of the week. Welshman Price arrived at the ninth tee on Friday (his 18th) at level par and guessing that he needed an eagle to survive. Not only did he sink a 30 yard putt for that eagle, he shot a 68 on Saturday then a brilliant nine-under par 63 on Sunday to tie Evans and Claydon for third – an amazing jump from the cut line.
Low rounds proliferated at the immaculately manicured Circolo Golf Club – a venue commended by one and all – from day one. Swede Mats Lanner set the tone for the week by lowering the course record by three strokes with a 62.
Francisco Cea of Spain, son of the greenkeeper at Parador Malaga del Golf, climbed to the head of affairs at half way on 12 under par, leading by two from Harrington and Claydon with Robertson one further back.
Harrington and Robertson both fired 68s on Saturday to fill positions one and two, but on Sunday is was the Scot’s day in the sun. He made only one bogey, at the 17th, and even Harrington’s brave last hole birdie became obsolete as Robertson edged home.