Scott Drummond became the first player to win the Volvo PGA Championship on his debut since Arnold Palmer in 1975 when, in front of record crowds at Wentworth Club, he shot a breath-taking eight under par 64 in the final round for a two-stroke winning margin over Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and a world-class field.
The Scot, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday, was not even sure if he would be playing two weeks ago as he was lying as fourth reserve at the close of entries but eight days before the start of the 50th Volvo PGA Championship, he got the call to say he was in the field, following the withdrawal of England’s Greg Owen through injury, and he certainly made the most of his opportunity.
Eight birdies without a single dropped shot gave the Challenge Tour graduate a 19 under par total of 269, equalling Anders Hansen’s low winning aggregate of 2002. His final round of 64 also equals Colin Montgomerie’s 1999 record as lowest final round by the winner, his scoring a fitting tribute for the golden anniversary of The European Tour’s flagship event and the 1000th tournament on The European Tour International Schedule.
It was a dream come true for Drummond, ranked 435th in the world at the start of the week, who also became a father for the first time a month ago to a daughter Kiera. Prior to this week, his total earnings on The European Tour from his previous 26 events amounted to €54,147. This week he earned €625,000 (£419,778).
Drummond, a winner of two Challenge Tour events whose previous best performance on The European Tour was joint 16th in the dunhill championship earlier this year, becomes the first rookie to win the Volvo PGA Championship and only the second player after Hansen to make the event his maiden European Tour victory. In the process he also earned a five year exemption to The European Tour until the end of 2009.
Furthermore, his victory earns him automatic entry for the 133rd Open Championship at Royal Troon in July and the World Golf Championships – NEC Invitational the following month. He will be making his first appearance in both events.
“I really can’t comprehend it at the moment,” said a stunned Drummond. “I just got on my game and it is a dream.”
Drummond started the final round one adrift of playing partner Cabrera in the final group and the two players matched each other shot for shot to both reach the turn in 32, keeping the big guns at arms length as players like Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo and Miguel Angel Jimenez fought to close the gap.
Turning for home the big putts started to drop, including 35 foot birdie putts on the 13th and another on the 17th when he appeared to be in trouble. That gave him a one stroke lead playing the last where he calmly pitched to eight feet and, after Cabrera missed his own ten foot birdie putt, holed the birdie putt to win by two.
"On the 18th I didn’t look at the leaderboard but the cheer from the crowd told me and the look in my caddie’s eyes as well,” added Drummond. “I knew we had done it.”
The first person to congratulate him was his father George, who had funded him and supported him as he set out to become a Tour professional. As they embraced on the 18th green, his father simply said: "You've made my life."
For Cabrera, it was another brave effort which included eagles at the fourth and 12th and birdies at the sixth, seventh and 17th but the two bogeys, particularly one on the 14th which surrendered the lead to Drummond for the first time, proved costly as he carded a five under par 67 to finish on 17 under par.
“I played very well, felt very comfortable but Scott was playing very well,” said Cabrera, who also finished runner-up in 2001. “I bogeyed the 14th and although birdied the 17th, by then the tournament was in his hands. I’m happy with a 67 but it was a great effort of Scott to shoot 64 to win.”
Cabrera’s 67 was matched by Swede Joakim Haeggman, who stepped up his bid to qualify for The Ryder Cup Matches in September as a player rather than Bernhard Langer’s assistant with a outstanding third place.
The 2002 champion Hansen continued his love affair with the West Course when he shot a closing 64, eight under par, to post the target of 15 under par, a score matched by Clarke and Faldo, who posted rounds of 67 and 66 respectively, while Els shot a four under par 68 to lie one stroke further back on 13 under par 275.