Fraser lands convincing win

4/25/2010 8:01:17 AM
Marcus Fraser   (Getty Images)
Marcus Fraser (Getty Images)

Australia's Marcus Fraser won the Ballantine's Championship by four shots as a battling three under par final round 69 secured a wire-to-wire victory - his first in seven years.

The 31 year old topped the leaderboard at 12 under par after dropping just two shots in three rounds of the weather-affected 54-hole tournament at Pinx Golf Club.

After erasing Fraser's one shot overnight lead at the turn Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin faded down the stretch and lost out on sole possession of second place after a par putt at the last lipped out and a level par 72 dropped the 29 year old back alongside Australia's Brett Rumford (71).

Fraser's only previous win on The European Tour had come at the 2003 Russian Open, and his comprehensive victory in Korea clearly meant alot.

"It's unbelievable, I don't know how I did that today. It has blown me away," said an emotional Fraser, who lost in a play-off to Rod Pampling at the Australian Masters at the end of 2008.

"I have had so many chances to win in seven years and you just don't know if it is going to be your day, and it was. I just can't believe it.

"The second win is harder than the first one, it has just been so long. I have had so many chances to win over the last seven years and I haven't done it so to go out there and play how I did this week is a big lift."

Fraser admitted that his inability to convert good performances into wins had led to him doubting his future in the sport, and paid tribute to the uncle whose funeral he missed while attending last year's Ballantine's Championship.

"Probably three or four years ago, I thought about giving it away," he added. "I was playing terrible. Golf swing wasn't improving and everything wasn't really getting any better.

"I thought I was wasting my time and you really start to question yourself, whether you think that you should be out here or whether you deserve to be out here. I went through a patch like that and luckily I went back and saw my old coach that I used to see when I was an amateur, and we got things moving in the right direction.

"It's been a lot of hard work over the last couple of years to get back to this position. My last win was when I was coached by Denis McDade, and I've had another win today, still being coached by him. So I think we've done a lot of things to keep things moving in the right direction.

"I never thought I'd be in this situation again, so it's extra personal this week. At this time last year, I lost my uncle, who was also my Godfather and I missed his funeral because of this tournament. So to come back and win this week, that's definitely for him."

Oliver Fisher (71) moved a step closer to reclaiming his card after posting a fifth consecutive top ten finish. Five shots off the pace, he tied for fourth alongside Maybank Malaysian Open champion Noh Seung-yul (68).

"Playing next week, obviously if I have a good week there that will secure it for sure," said Fisher - who having moved into the top 30 on The Race to Dubai looks likely to finish in the top 115 that secure playing privileges for 2011.

"I'm pretty pleased with that. I would have taken that come January.

"I know I can play, I know the standard that I can play and it was a frustrating year for me last year but just a matter of ploughing on and keep grinding it out and not giving up. Hopefully it's starting to turn around, so I'm pleased."

Last year's joint runner-up Robert-Jan Derksen (71), Welshman Jamie Donaldson (70), who finished fourth at last week's Volvo China Open, and Singapore's Mardan Mamat (72) finished tied for sixth at six under par.

Defending champion Thongchai Jaidee (75) and Argentina's Tano Goya (75), who sat one shot adrift of Fraser heading into the final round, slipped down into a tie for ninth alongside Mikko Ilonen (69), Niclas Fasth (71) and World Number Seven Ernie Els (74) a further shot off the pace.

Three-time Major winner Els had moved ominously within a shot of Fraser and Maybin at the turn with three birdies, but the World Golf Championships-CA Championship winner played his back nine in five over par including a double bogey.

Fraser had been slightly disappointed with several missed close-range putts on the front nine of his second round 70, but he had no such troubles at the start of his third round with putts from inside six feet at the first and fourth maintaining his one shot lead early on the final day.

In bright but breezy conditions, Maybin matched Fraser's start to takeover the chase from the struggling Jaidee and Goya before the 29 year old joined the Australian at the top of the leaderboard with a superb approach into the ninth green setting up a simple tap-in birdie.

Fraser added a third birdie of the round at the tenth to regain the lead before again saving par a hole later with an eight foot putt after missing the green.

The Australian was suddenly handed a three shot lead as Maybin began his trip home with two bogeys in three holes - hitting his approach into the bank bunker at the 12th green before two putting from inside six feet.

Fraser was again forced to battle for par at the 16th after missing the fairway off the tee and the green with his third, but made another solid up and down with a four foot par putt maintaining the comfortable advantage with two holes remaining.

"I led from day one and I don't think I would have enough in me for a fourth round, but I don't care," added Fraser. "I have worked hard this week and over last few years to get back into a position where I should be winning golf tournaments and it is a big reward."

Maybin, who is still searching for his maiden European Tour title, added: "I didn't really come in here with a whole lot of form, so to finish second is a great result any time.

"I didn't play the back nine great, to be honest - three over - so a few things there that need a bit of improvement but overall happy enough."