Sweden’s Pierre Fulke completed his comeback from injury by capturing the Scottish PGA Championship over the Monarch’s Course at Gleneagles but he was pushed all the way by compatriot Henrik Nystrom.
Fulke shot a bogey-free 70 to finish on 17 under par 271, two clear of Nystrom, to win his second European Tour title the 109,495 euro (£66,660) first prize.
Since winning the Trophée Lancôme last September, Fulke has been plagued by a wrist injury as was unable to compete for seven months. One the problem was diagnosed as referred pain from the neck he returned to competitive golf in June. He produced a superb performance to finish seventh in the Open Championship at St Andrews and is not back to his best.
“It proves my point that I am back where I left off after the Lancôme,” he said. “I haven’t been leading going into the final round before and even though it was only just I coped with it. The level of my game is back where it was last year, probably even better. It’s going in the right direction.
“I even thought I might not play again for short periods of time. When I got back playing again that is when you question yourself. Certainly wasn’t playing very good the first tournaments I came back. Playing the Murphy’s Irish Open and the Smurfit European Open in July felt like January to me as I had just got started. You want to do so well in those tournaments but also trying to find your game at the start of the season because that is what it was for me. That was the strange part. But since the Open I’ve been playing great.”
Fulke started the round three shots clear of Nystrom, his nearest rival, but the 31-year-old from Stockholm immediately set about closing the gap with an eagle three on the 516-yards second hole. When Nystrom birdied the ninth the Swedish pair were level and then Nystrom added another birdie on the tenth to move ahead for the first time.
After 11 straight pars Fulke, winner of the Trophée Lancôme last year, finally picked up his first birdie on the par five 12th but it was matched by Nystrom. But just one hole later Nystrom double bogeyed, coming up short, putting on but then three putting to hand the lead back to Fulke.
Both players birdied the 15th and when Nystrom missed the green on the 17th Fulke had a two-shot cushion playing the last.
Nystrom said: “The 13th messed me up. I had just got ahead and made a mess of that. After that I lost the momentum. But it’s been a great week, my best on Tour.”
Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin held onto third after a run of eight consecutive missed cuts on 11-under par with another Swede Olle Karlsson sharing fourth with England’s Benn Barham. It was a remarkable week for Barham who seized his opportunity after starting as reserve and only discovering he was in the tournament 90 minutes before he was due to tee off. In only his second European Tour start the 24-year-old from Kent opened his account with a seven under par 65 and held firm throughout the week to record his best ever finish.