Woosnam has sweet smell of success in Cologne

6/19/2011 3:11:14 PM
Ian Woosnam  (Getty Images)
Ian Woosnam (Getty Images)

Ian Woosnam produced a swashbuckling performance reminiscent of his years of dominance on The European Tour to storm to victory in the Berenberg Bank Masters on the European Senior Tour.

Two shots off the pace at the start of the day, the diminutive Welshman carded a sensational final round 66 at Cologne Golf und Land Club to cruise through the field and bank his fourth Senior Tour title with a nine under par winning total of 207.

Chilean Angel Fernandez took second place on 209 after his closing 68 while American Tim Thelen – one of the three overnight leaders alongside Englishmen Barry Lane and Mark James – was third on 211. But the day, and the tournament, belonged to the 1991 Masters Tournament champion.

“I played really, really well and I am delighted,” said Woosnam for whom the title was his first Senior Tour win in over two years since he claimed the 2009 Irish Seniors Open at Ballybunion. “I didn’t make many mistakes out there either which was crucial and as a result I didn’t put myself under too much pressure.

“I have to say I have been playing pretty well for a long time now but the last two couple of golf courses we have played didn’t really suit me because they were a bit hard and bouncy,” added the 53 year old Welshman who pocketed the winners’ cheque for €60,000 (£53,069) to move up to third on the Order of Merit.

“However, as soon as I saw this course I knew it was right up my street and I knew if I could drive the ball a little bit better than I had been of late then I knew I had a chance. I managed to do that and you saw the outcome.”

Aside from a dropped shot at the seventh hole where he missed the green with his approach shot, Woosnam was flawless in his front nine of 34 and when he added two further birdies at the tenth and 11th, he was out on his own in front.

Overnight leaders Thelen, Lane and James, in the final group, could only watch from behind as the Welshman pulled away, unable to mount a serious assault, leaving Chilean Fernandez as the 2006 European Ryder Cup Captain’s only serious challenger.

The 56 year old from Santiago birdied the 11th and the 13th but could make no more inroads on the Cologne course’s par as the tournament reached its crucial stage, his closing birdie four on the 18th mererly cementing his runners-up place.

The win represented Woosnam’s second career success in Germany, following his win in the German Open at Nippenburg in 1996 which, by an incredibly coincidence, was also over 54 holes – the European Tour event that year being cut short by inclement weather.

“I think it is very fair to say I love three round tournaments in Germany, they’ve been pretty good to me,” said Woosnam. “The only difference was that I was a few more under par back then than I was this week!”

That week, 15 years ago, Germany’s favourite son Bernhard Langer finished 37th and the 2004 Ryder Cup captain and tournament host trailed the Welshman once again, this time finishing in a share of 11th place on one over par 217.

“I started with two bogeys which is never ideal,” said Langer. “I was trailing and needed a fast start but got completely the opposite and as a result I was battling hard just trying to get back into things.

“I am pleased I played this week as it was good to get back into competitive action after being out for three months with my thumb injury. To be honest, it is still not quite right and as a result I feel I can’t hit down firmly into the ball properly.

“But I will play next week in the BMW International Open on The European Tour and then have a couple of weeks off to prepare for my defence of the Senior Open Championship at Walton Heath. We have three Senior Majors in a row then so I want to be in as good a shape as possible for all of those.”