European Tour Top 5 in 2004

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European TourAs the European Tour season reaches a conclusion at this weeks Volvo Masters Andalucia, we countdown the tours top 5 tournaments in 2004. There were plenty of possibilities. Ernie Els repeated in Australia. Sergio Garcia triumphed in Spain. Reteif Goosen got a couple of titles, and a trio of European Ryder Cup members set the tone for the matches by winning three straight tournaments. Those were all great tournaments. But these are the top 5 in 2004.
 
No. 5 -- Caltex Masters

Before Colin Montgomerie emerged this year as a sympathetic figure mired in divorce, before he reemerged as a Ryder Cup stalwart, he was just trying to resurrect his submerging career. Winless on the European Tour in 16 months, Montgomerie found himself in Singapore, four Colin Montgomerieshots off the lead entering the final round of the Caltex Masters. He knew he needed at least a 65 on Sunday to have any chance at victory. And, for the first time in a long time, he did just what he set out to do. Montgomerie sealed his 28th career tour title by sticking his tee shot at the water-guarded par-3 17th to 3 feet. It was his seventh birdie on the day en route to a flawless 7-under 65. The win was not only his first on tour since he shared the Volvo Masters title with Bernhard Langer in 2002; it also moved him to 41st in the world rankings and guaranteed him a spot in The Players Championship.
 
This means an awful lot to me, said Montgomerie at the time. It means confidence to me. I lost my confidence last year and I have it back now.
 
No. 4 -- Deutsche Bank-SAP Open

04 Deutsche Bank-SAP OpenPadraig Harrington has lost tournaments in just about every way imaginable. At this years Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, he was simply beaten by a better player that week. Harrington, the defending champion, and Trevor Immelman started the final round in Germany trailing leader Gregory Havret by one stroke. But while the Frenchman would crash and burn with a 10-Trevor Immelmanover 82, Immelman and Harrington were on fire on Sunday ' in a good way. With Immelman in the penultimate group and Harrington in the final twosome, both turned in 33. Immelman took the lead with a birdie at 11, but Harrington responded with a birdie at 10. Immelman reclaimed solo first with a birdie at 12, but Harrington again tied it with one of his own on the same hole. Harrington edged in front with a 15-foot birdie at the 14th, but just moments later, Immelman made a 30-footer for birdie at 15. It ultimately came down to the ultimate hole, the par-4 18th. Immelman made a 10-foot birdie and then watched as Harrington staked his approach shot on the home hole to 8 feet. Harrington, however, finally blinked when he missed his playoff-forcing putt. Immelman had his second win of the season; Harrington had his 18th career runner-up finish.
 
'In six months time nobody will remember how close it was,' said Harrington. 'It's going to be another second place. That's the way it is. I thought I was doing well and was surprised to see that he was keeping pace with me and I obviously needed to make more birdies.'
 
No. 3 -- Dubai Desert Classic

Tiger Woods came. But Mark OMeara sawed and conquered. In what was supposed to be a showdown between world Mark ONo. 1 Woods and world No. 3 Ernie Els, OMeara played the role of spoiler at the Dubai Desert Classic. OMeara flew over to the United Arab Emirates with good buddy Woods. But while Woods exited with a hefty appearance fee, OMeara did so with a first-place check and a hefty piece of hardware. Winless on either the PGA or European tour since his 1998 British Open triumph, OMeara used his saw-like putting grip to hold off Irishman Paul McGinley, with whom he played all four rounds. OMeara finished four clear of Els, and five removed from Woods.
 
Chalk one up for the old boys, OMeara said. It's been a big day for me, it really has. It's been a long time.
 
No. 2 -- Volvo PGA Championship

04 Volvo PGA ChampionshipIts difficult for people on the U.S. side of the Atlantic to comprehend the importance of the Volvo PGA Championship. But outside of the British Open ' which isnt actually run by the tour ' its by far and away the biggest tournament on the European schedule. Its list of champions Scott Drummondincludes Gallacher and Jacklin and Oosterhuis and Palmer and Faldo and Ballesteros and Langer and Woosnam and Olazabal and Montgomerie and Drummond. Drummond? Yep, as in: Scott Drummond. Like any huge tournament, the Volvo PGA had seen its share of surprise winners, like Ignacio Garrido in 2003. But Drummond? He was ranked 435th in the world when he beat a field that contained Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and just about every other major European Tour player you can count. Through three rounds, Argentine Angel Cabrera was in the lead, with Drummond one back and Justin Rose, Clarke and Els lurking. On a final-day shootout, it was Drummond who had the most ammunition. One day after turning 30, the Scot belatedly celebrated his birthday with a remarkable Sunday 64. Drummond became the second player (Anders Hansen, 2002) to make the Volvo PGA his first tour victory, and became the first player since Arnold Palmer in 1975 to win in his first tournament appearance.
 
I really can't comprehend it at the moment,' said Drummond. I just got on my game and it is a dream.
 
No. 1 -- 133rd Open Championship

Todd Hamiltons victorious leap into the arms of his caddie; the picture of dejection framed on the face of Ernie Els ' those two images are the defining snapshots from the 133rd Open Championship. But they dont tell the whole story. The final round of the British Todd HamiltonOpen was filled with emotion, delivered by more than the two playoff participants. There was Tiger Woods hole-out bunker birdie; Thomas Levets pitch-in eagle; Phil Mickelsons chip-in eagle; early birdies from Els and Hamilton; a monster eagle putt courtesy Barry Lane. It was fast, it was furious, it was great television. Of course, in the end, but two men placed their hands firmly upon the claret jug. And it was Hamilton who shockingly wrested it away from his more accomplished counterpart.
 
Paired with Els each of the final two days, the 39-year-old PGA Tour rookie more than held his own against the three-time major champion. Hamilton birdied 11, chipped-in for birdie at 14 and birdied 16. Els made a miraculous par from the bushes at 11, made a 50-footer for birdie at 13, and converted must-make birdies at 16 and 17. Both men missed opportunities to close it out in regulation, with Hamilton making bogey and Els leaving a 12-foot birdie putt short. The playoff was a tad anticlimactic, with Hamiltons four pars providing the necessary one-stroke differential. But there was still drama all the way up until Els missed another birdie putt on the 18th hole, one which would have extended the four-hole extra session into sudden death. As it was, Hamilton, who had made a living playing exotic and foreign tours, tapped in for par and became yet another unlikely Open champion.

I was trying to look around as much as I could to soak it all in, said Hamilton. I've won tournaments around the world before, but nothing on a stage like this, so to be Open champion is very special.
 
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