Friday, 19 March 2010
(Reuters) - Scotland's Colin Montgomerie ended a 19-month wait for his 31st European Tour title when he won the Smurfit Kappa European Open by a stroke from Sweden's Niclas Fasth.

Montgomerie rode his luck on his way to a closing five under par 65 for an 11 under total of 269, holing several big putts and surviving shots close to hazards at the last two holes to edge out Fasth.

The Swede had to wait 80 minutes before he could attempt to make the birdie at the final hole that would have thrown the event into a play-off, following the second suspension for lightning during the afternoon.

A par on the last, reduced from a par five to a par three because of week-long bad weather, left Fasth on a closing 67 to miss out on his second win in three weeks.

The €593,580 first prize was Montgomerie's first since the UBS Hong Kong Open in December 2005 and came the week after he finished third in the Open de France ALSTOM. 

His 35ft birdie putt from the fringe on the 11th projected Montgomerie to the top of the leaderboard with Fasth. A 25ft putt on the 14th and 15 footer off the green at the 15th kept him alongside Fasth, playing four groups behind.

Bogeys by the Swede on the 12th and 13th immediately after the first suspension put 44-year-old Montgomerie, who had twice left tee shots at the two closing short holes dangerously close to water, in sight of his victory breakthrough.

Fasth held him up by birdieing the 15th to move just a stroke behind but missed birdie putts of nine feet on the 17th and then 15ft on the last after the second weather break to come up short.

"After nearly two years of a dry spell it's great to be back, you wonder if it's ever going to happen again," Montgomerie said.

"The last two holes I got fortunate. I was in the hazard at the last and couldn't ground my club and then I holed a five-footer for par, so I had to work for it."

Montgomerie was happy to set the record for European Tour title successes. "I'm now one win above Nick Faldo, someone I have admired for many, many years," the Scot said.

Fasth, suffering from a cold all week, said: "It was rather disappointing - nearly but not quite. Considering how I was feeling it was not a bad effort. I just tried to pull through."

Second round leader Pelle Edberg of Sweden finished in a tie for third place to earn a place in The Open at Carnoustie. He shared third with compatriot Peter Hanson, Frenchman Gregory Havret and england's Anthony Wall. Third round leader Soren Hansen of Denmark closed with a 72 to end tied seventh.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
2FASTH, NiclasSWE18-10
T3HAVRET, GrégoryFRA18-9
T3WALL, AnthonyENG18-9
T3EDBERG, PelleSWE18-9
T3HANSON, PeterSWE18-9
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