Owen Cruises to First European Victory

By Sports NetworkJune 8, 2003, 4:00 pm
WARWICKSHIRE, England -- Greg Owen needed only a 1-under 71 on Sunday to cruise to his first title on the European Tour at the British Masters. He finished with a four-day total of 14-under-par 274 and won the event by three shots over Ian Poulter and Christian Cevaer.
'I played great. I'm speechless,' said Owen, who became the eighth different first-time winner on the European Tour in 2003. 'I was always wondering. I'm just glad I can learn from these experiences and hopefully go further now.'
Owen opened Sunday's final round with a four-stroke lead and things never got closer than two shots. He ran home a five-foot birdie putt at No. 2 but stumbled a bit at the third when he missed the green and failed to convert a seven-foot par save. Owen sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the sixth to move his margin to three strokes.
Poulter cut the gap to two shots when he drained a five-foot birdie putt at seven but Owen extended the lead a few moments later when he tapped in a two-footer for birdie.
Owen pushed his lead one hole later with a 10-foot birdie putt. After the pair made the turn, Poulter dropped shots at the par-5 12th and another at the 13th. The tournament was basically over at this point as Poulter had fallen five shots out of the lead.
'I managed to calm down and make some good birdies just before the turn,' said Owen. 'Rather than me making birdies, there was a couple of mistakes by Ian and he let me in and calmed me down a little bit.'
Owen struggled coming into the clubhouse. At the par-3 15th, Owen sailed over the green but chipped to 15 feet. Owen nearly made the par save but came up short and bogeyed two in a row when his approach came up short of the putting surface at the 16th.
Owen had one good stroke left in him and it came out at the par-5 17th. He reached the green in two, some 12 feet from the hole and two-putted for birdie.
The 31-year-old new father missed the green right at the last hole but chipped to four feet. Owen missed the putt but still had four more swipes before the tournament would be in jeopardy. He tapped in the bogey to polish off his 71 and finally break into the winner's circle.
Owen's closest brush with victory on tour came earlier this season at the Open de Portugal. He held a three-shot lead heading into the weekend but played poorly and tied for fifth.
'Portugal hurt,' said Owen. 'I scrambled my way in and it shows that I can at least hang in there when I need to. I just tried to hang on in there.'
Poulter, the winner of last week's Wales Open, shot a 2-under 70 for his second consecutive runner-up finish in this event. In 2002, Poulter battled good friend Justin Rose down the stretch but this year, he was never a factor despite a third-round 63.
Cevaer birdied his final two holes Sunday to shoot a 4-under-par 68. The tie for second matched his best finish on the European Tour as he took a solo second at the Madeira Island Open way back in 1995.
Darren Clarke had the round of the day Sunday with a 6-under 66. That moved him into a tie for fourth with Robert Rock and Anthony Wall at 8-under-par 280.
With the U.S. Open next week at Olympia Fields, Clarke can take some encouragement from his final round as he prepares to win his first career major championship.
'It was nice to shoot a good number as I go off to the states tonight,' said Clarke. 'I've been playing very good from tee to green. If I'm going to have any chance next week, I've got to sharpen up around the greens. I haven't been doing that.'
Raphael Jacquelin (67), Stephen Gallacher (70), David Lynn (73) and Jorge Berendt (70) shared seventh place at minus-7. Berendt did not leave the British Masters empty-handed as he won a new Jaguar thanks to knocking his tee ball less than three feet from the hole at 18.
Related Links
  • Bio: Greg Owen
  • Full-field scores from the British Masters
  • Full coverage of the British Masters
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.