Late-Surging OMalley Takes Title in England


Peter OMalley withstood a potential French Connection and a Tiger Woods look-alike to win the Compass Group English Open.
Free Video - Registration Required Peter O'Malley talks about his win
OMalley fired a gorgeous final round 66 over the Marriott Forest of Arden to end at 13-under-par 275, one stroke better than Frances Raphael Jacquelin (70) and two better than Adam Scott, who struggled Sunday with a 73.
Entering the final day, Jacquelin was looking to become the first back-to-back French winner in European Tour history, after his countryman Thomas Levet took the Victor Chandler British Masters last week, while Scott ' the young Australian who has been so much compared to the World No. 1 Woods ' was searching for his second win this season.
Everyone seemed to have a story developing. Everyone, that is, except OMalley.
Starting the day at minus-seven and five shots back of leader Scott, OMalley wasnt even given a remote shot to win, and after he had made the turn in a rather boring 1-under 35, nothing had changed much.
But just then, the 35-year-old Australian suddenly got his game in gear, birdieing the 10th and 11th, and then eagling the par-5 12th. Another birdie at No. 14, and the two-time winner on the tour was suddenly at minus-13.
In the meantime, Scotts once pristine game had tuned sour, as the long-bombing 20-year-old bogied three of his first six holes. He managed to recover some of his lost ground with birdies at Nos. 7 and 12, but another bogey at the 13th, combined with OMalleys superb run, and the younger Aussie had quickly fallen two back, where he would stay for the duration of the round.
I just played badly today, said Scott. I didnt make any putts. It is disappointing but I am sure I will have another chance.
In the end on Sunday, it was only Jacquelin who had any sort of a chance of catching OMalley.
Entering the par-4 16th, the smooth-swinging Frenchman was just one shot back of OMalley at 12-under, and faced a 35-foot left-to-right swinging putt for birdie. Needing just to get it close so as not to lose any ground, the three-time winner on the Challenge Tour promptly rolled the ball into the cup for birdie and a tie of the lead.
However, on the difficult finishing par-3 18th, Jacquelin hit his tee shot short and into a bunker. He blasted out to 10 feet past the hole, and then missed his par attempt which would have forced a sudden-death playoff.
I enjoyed being in contention very much, stated a contented Jacquelin. If someone had said at the start of the week that I would be second then I would have been very happy.
For OMalley, this win marks his third victory in 12 years on the tour. While his last came at the 1995 Benson and Hedges International Open, his inaugural occurred at the 92 Scottish Open at Gleneagles, when he fired another low round on the last day ' a 62 which beat out Colin Montgomerie by 2 shots.
He commented on the similarities of the two rounds: On that occasion I didnt see anyone else finish because I was told no one could beat me, but I was watching this time. Certainly my run from the eighth to the 14th was similar golf to that tournament.
Speaking of Montgomerie, the big Scot withdrew this week because of a bad back. While initial word had it that he might miss next weeks U.S. Open at Southern Hills, the latest is saying that he was back on the practice range Sunday and feeling much better. He is expected to make the trip to Tulsa.
Darren Clarke is another who will certainly venture to the States next week. The two-time defending champion of this English Open is finding some good form as well. He did not make it three-in-a-row this week, but did record a respectable finish of fifth at 7-under.
Young Englishman Justin Rose did not fare quite as well. Hanging around the top of the leaderboard all week, Rose blew up Sunday at the Forest of Arden with a 79 to finish at level-par for the tournament.
Full-field scores from the English Open