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Tuesday May 22, 2012

Colsaerts beats ex-US Open champ McDowell on final hole

CASARES (Spain): Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts beat former US Open cham­pion Graeme McDowell on the final green to win the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Sunday.

Colsaerts, who had needed two extra holes to beat 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie in the morning semi-finals, was pushed all the way by McDowell.

The Northern Irishman, who reached the final by beating Rafael Cabrera Bello, levelled the final three times on the front nine.

But Colsaerts prevailed to take the trophy and also move into an automatic qualifying place for the Ryder Cup.

“It means everything to win this. I felt that I had a pretty good shot at it last year in the same format, and I was a little disappointed not to get to the final,” said the 29-year-old.

Colsaerts had begun his semi-final with Lawrie by losing the first four holes, but he then launched a fightback and after an hour-long thunderstorm delay, he won at the 20th.

“Two days ago I was in my room taking a nap thinking I was going to fly home. It means so much to be here, it’s fantastic,” said the champion.

“I played well in tough conditions. Wind like this, you know it’s going to be very difficult. Graeme McDowell, he’s won the US Open, so he’s used to playing in tough conditions. I knew that it was going to be a tough game in conditions like these.”

McDowell started the final in fine form, holing from 18 feet on the first hole and nine feet at the shorter second.

But he fell behind at the fourth, sixth and eighth, only for Colsaerts to lose the next each time.

At the start of the back nine they were level, but the Northern Irishman bogeyed the 11th to go one down for a fourth time.

Another bogey at the 13th put him two down, but at the 14th he holed an eight-foot birdie putt to cut the gap to one again.

Both men dropped shots at the 15th. McDowell dropped another on the 16th before Colsaerts three-putted the 17th.

But there were no final-hole nerves for the Belgian, who has enjoyed a career love affair with Volvo events – winning his maiden European Tour title at the Volvo China Open in 2011.

He was third in this event last year and took second back at the China Open. — AFP

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