Colin Montgomerie rewrote the golfing record books once again at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club with victory in the Volvo Scandinavian Masters to become the first player in history to win the prestigious tournament on three occasions.
The 38 year old Scot, who won at Barsebäck two years ago and at Drottningholm in 1991, closed with a 70 for a 14 under par total of 274 to notch his 26th European Tour International Schedule victory overall and his second within a month, following his win in the Murphy’s Irish Open at the beginning of July.
The seven time Volvo Order of Merit winner even survived the hiccup of bogeying both the 17th and 18th holes to finish one shot clear of defending champion Lee Westwood and fellow Englishman Ian Poulter who both ended with level par 72s for 275.
One shot further back on 12 under par 276, five players shared the honour of fourth place, the Swedish trio of Dennis Edlund, Joakim Haeggman and Jarmo Sandelin along with England’s Warren Bennett and Australia’s Adam Scott.
The win moved Montgomerie into the top ten of the Volvo Order of Merit for the first time this season and also upped him to sixth place in the Ryder Cup points table. Elsewhere Westwood moved up from fifth to fourth while Poulter made a significant stride towards The De Vere Belfry, leaping from 20th up to 12th.
“It’s great to be back in the winners’ circle,” said Montgomerie. “I played well all week but I think the reason I won is that I holed out very well. Every time I missed a green I seemed to chip up well and hole good putts.
“But I was also very patient, especially on Saturday and that gave me a great boost for today. Although I bogeyed the third hole early on I still felt comfortable and I hit a great six iron into the fourth hole to make birdie and that settled me down again. I won at the beginning of July and now I’ve won at the beginning of August – I can’t wait for September.
“I believe I am the only person to have played in every Volvo Scandinavian Masters since 1991 and I do enjoy playing here very much. It is always a tournament that is on my schedule and so to win in three times is a delight.”
Montgomerie also took time out to praise the return to form of defending champion Westwood, who had missed four of the previous six cuts before his trip to Sweden, but who gave notice that his game was returning in perfect time for The Ryder Cup Matches at the end of next month.
“I’m glad that Lee has shown a return to form,” said the Scot. “I played with him the first two days and I thought his golf was very good. It was great for him and I am pretty sure that Sam (Torrance) will be delighted with the result here today.”
Montgomerie, who started the day one shot off the lead and who had figured menacingly on the shoulders of the respective leaders throughout the earlier part of the week, picked the perfect moment to grab the tournament by the scruff of the neck, turning into the back nine of the final afternoon.
On the tenth tee the Scot stood level at the top of the leaderboard with Edlund, Poulter and Peter Hedblom, but pulled clear thanks to his own excellent play combined with the inability of his nearest challengers to make forward strides of their own.
Montgomerie’s first thrust came at the 410 yard 11th hole where a superb approach to a testing pin nestled just beyond the front bunker came to rest a mere two feet from the hole from where he tapped in for a birdie three.
Earlier in the week Montgomerie had struggled to make gains on the Malmo course’s three par fives, but he made no mistake in the final round, following up his birdie four at the 558 yard fifth with another birdie four at the 547 yard 12th.
His position was strengthened with a further birdie at the 14th from ten feet and, with all the other challengers failing to make gains, the destiny of the 300,000 euro (£184,112) first prize looked a foregone conclusion.
However a poor drive into the trees at the 17th and an errant approach at the last, which caught a greenside bunker, cost Montgomerie bogey fives at each hole and he had to watch anxiously as Westwood, paired in the final group with Poulter, knew a birdie three would force a play-off.
As it turned out it was Poulter who made the three, holing from 15 feet for his only birdie of a testing final day. Westwood’s six iron approach to the last caught the gallery to the left of the green but he managed to pitch and putt from the drop zone for a brave par four and a share of second with his playing partner.
Of the group of five players who finished in a share of fourth place, perhaps the most pleased was 35 year old Swede Dennis Edlund, who lost his card after finishing 150th in the 1999 Volvo Order of Merit, but whose cheque for 65,664 euro (£40,298) gave him a fighting chance of regaining it this season.
Conversely, perhaps the most disappointed was fellow countryman and Challenge Tour player Peter Hedblom, who won the Volvo Finnish Open on the Challenge Tour three weeks ago.
The 31 year old, who won the Moroccan Open in 1996 before losing his playing privileges at the end of the 1998 season, was tied for the lead going into the back nine and indeed coming down the last, could have tied Montgomerie had he conjured up a birdie three.
But a poor drive into the trees, followed by an approach with plugged in a greenside bunker, cost Hedblom a double bogey six and saw him drop from a top three spot to a share of ninth place, the one consolation being a spot in this week’s Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open.