Andrew Oldcorn produced the performance of his life over the West Course at Wentworth Club to win the 2001 Volvo PGA Championship from a truly world class field. The 41 year old Scot carded a final round 71 for a 16 under par total of 272 to win by two shots from Argentina's Angel Cabrera, who closed with a 69, with Nick Faldo third on 13 under par after his final round 67
At the conclusion of an absorbing week of international competition, played in front of record, shirt-sleeved galleries, Oldcorn declared: “I think my victory is a testament to the strength and depth of The European Tour. At lot of guys can play on this Tour and I hope this win provides inspiration to a lot of other players.”
The new champion added: “I must say a huge thank you to Volvo for helping to create such a successful Championship. Funnily enough this has always been a title I have wanted to win more even more than the Open Championship. It is a very special event.”
Oldcorn, born in Bolton but lives in Edinburgh and regards himself as a Scot by adoption, became the oldest winner of the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, beating the record held by Costantino Rocca, who was 39 days and 191 days when he triumphed in 1996. Such was the quality and cosmopolitan nature of the event that seven different countries filled the first seven places.
Victory was made all the sweeter by the fact that he held off Cabrera and a rampaging Faldo, who managed to get within one stroke of Oldcorn as a superb Championship gained momentum over the back nine. The Argentine player eagled the last to secure second place with a closing 68 for 274 while Faldo shot a bogey free 67 for 275.
“I always thought I was capable of winning a Championship like this and it just makes me believe that I’ve still got a lot left in me. I saw Nick was getting closer and closer and that actually made me play better. My composure was fantastic. I was totally in control.”
Oldcorn moved from 137th to third in the Volvo Order of Merit and from 98th to seventh in the Ryder Cup points table after collecting the biggest cheque of his career, 544,521 euro (£330,330). He earns a five year exemption on The European Tour and automatic entry into the 130th Open Championship.
Cabrera reached the position of Number One in the Volvo Order of Merit for the first time in his career on the strength of his 363,014 euro (£222,220) while Faldo’s resurgent form saw him climb to 18th position in both the Volvo Order of Merit and the Ryder Cup points table.
“I knew I would have to keep fighting” said Cabrera. “I could see that Oldcorn was very determined and Faldo was making a move and that made me fight even harder. On the tenth tee I told my caddie I needed four or five under to have a chance. I shot five under but it wasn’t quite enough.”
Faldo, seeking his first victory since capturing the Nissan Open in 1997 and his first on European soil since 1994, admitted he was thrilled to be back in contention over a course he knows and loves. He said: “I think this is a big breakthrough, really. I had a good day. The crowd reaction was really fantastic and it felt like the good old days.”
The six-times Major Champion took time to pay a handsome tribute to the new champion, by saying: “It’s a great achievement on a tough golf course. It demands a lot of finesse shots and when you are nervous, playing that kind of shot isn’t easy. He did a great job to hang on.”
Oldcorn had swept into the lead in a high class field containing several Major Champions thanks to successive rounds of 66. He hadn’t been in such a strong position since the 1996 Murphy’s Irish Open, when a double bogey six at the 72nd hole saw Colin Montgomerie deprive him of the title.
This time, Oldcorn drew on that hurtful experience and decided that no such trauma was going to affect him again. A third round 69 propelled him five shots clear with a round to go, as Sweden’s Niclas Fasth, Cabrera and Phillip Price gathered for a last day push. Michael Campbell and José Maria Olazábal were a further stroke behind with Faldo in a group seven off the pace.
Faldo, inspired by the vocal support, reached the turn in 32 as a gesture of intent as Oldcorn faltered just slightly with bogeys at the seventh and ninth. However he played the inward nine with aplomb, birdieing the three par fives for his two shot victory.
Cabrera’s 68 and Faldo’s 67 made the contest a compelling one, while Campbell and Price shot 70 and 71 respectively to share fourth place along with Swede Mathias Grönberg, who charged through the field with a 65. Vijay Singh, accorded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour last Tuesday, claimed seventh spot.