Jarmo Sandelin returned to the winners’ circle on The European Tour for the first time since 1999 with victory in the BMW Asian Open at the Westin Resort, Ta Shee, in Taiwan.
The 34 year old Swede carded a final round 68 for a ten under par total of 278, one shot clear of Spain's José Maria Olazábal and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, to collect the first prize of 273,702 euro (£169,632).
Sandelin's countryman Carl Pettersson, who carded 72, finished in a tie for fourth alongside England's Barry Lane, who finished with a 69, two shots further back on seven under par 281.
“This morning I felt very focused, and when I get that feeling I know I have a chance. I didn’t say much as I was just really very focused. I hope I will have that feeling more often,” said Sandelin.
“It’s been two years of a lot of struggling. From now on I am going to take it one week at a time. Last season (2001) I finished 100th on the Volvo Order of Merit so this
season I want to take the two zeroes off."
Sandelin, whose last win at the German Open two years ago effectively sealed his place in The Ryder Cup Matches at Brookline, began the final day one shot off the lead held by Pettersson and Miguel Angel Jiménez, but soon found his deficit doubled when he dropped a shot on the opening hole.
However, he responded superbly with four birdies in his next five holes and another on the ninth took him out in 32, four under for the day, and ten under for the tournament. It also moved Sandelin into the lead as Pettersson marked time and Jiménez fell back after his bogey at the eighth and double bogey at the ninth.
A brilliant approach to six feet set up another birdie on the 208-yard 11th and took Sandelin three shots clear of the field before a bogey on the 16th, after his approach flew over the green, set up a nerve-wracking finish.
Olazábal had already set the clubhouse target with a birdie on the par three 18th for a 67 and a nine under par total of 279, while Jaidee could have put even more pressure on Sandelin by matching the Spaniard's feat, but his long birdie effort came up inches short, just as it had done at the 17th.
“Both putts were downhill so I didn’t think I would leave
them short," said Jaidee. "It was a little disappointing but it feels great to finish second.”
It left the Swede needing two par figures for victory and he held his nerve to achieve that and give him the perfect start to the 2002 European Tour International Schedule.
Olazábal, who finished tied with Jaidee, narrowly missed out on winning his 22nd European Tour title, but admitted he was content with one of his best ball striking rounds for some time.
“It was a very good performance - I really played very solid today," said the Spaniard. "I am very happy with the result. I made a couple of good putts on the golf course.
“My driving was very good, I wish it could be like this every week. It’s nice to have a good start to the season but I am more concerned about the way I am striking the ball.
"What I have been working on all year long was to
strike the ball like I did this week. I hope I can play like this more often."