Fasth Set to Defend


Niclas Fasth returns to the Santo da Serra Golf Club this week for the defense of his first win on the European Tour, the Madeira Island Open.
Fasth took the title in good form last year, topping the leaderboard during all four days of competition. He finished at 9-under for the tournament, two shots clear of Ross Drummond, Richard Johnson and John Davis.
The win came as Fasth's first in nine years on the European circuit. Twice before he had been close - finishing second to Colin Montgomerie at the 1995 Volvo German Open, and then again to Bernhard Langer in the '97 Czech Open - but never had he pulled off a victory.
This year Fasth may have as good an opportunity to win again as one ever does on the European Tour. With many of the best overseas for the Bay Hill Invitational, Fasth faces a somewhat limited field.
It is not a completely depleted group, however, as such prominent players as Seve Ballesteros, Gay Orr, Steen Tinning, Jarmo Sandelin and Dean Robertson are scheduled to play. Long-hitting American Hank Kuehne will also compete this week for a winner's check of $85,000.
The Madeira Island Open has been played since 1993. During the first four years, it was played at the Campo de Golf, but moved to Santo da Serra in 1997.