Bickerton Breaks Out Wins Maiden Title


European TourTENERIFE, Canary Islands -- England's John Bickerton ran away with his first European Tour title on Sunday with a 3-under 68 in his final round at the Abama Open de Canarias.
Bickerton ended the tournament at 10-under-par 274 for a five-stroke victory over South Africa's Michael Kirk and Stuart Little of England. It took 287 events -- including five runner-up finishes -- but the 35-year-old finally has his first win in 12 years on tour.
'Finally,' said Bickerton, who shot in the 60s in each of his four rounds. 'It feels fantastic, awesome. It's been a long time coming and I've been very worried about my place on tour.'
Bickerton, who entered the tournament ranked 118th on the Order of Merit, won't have to worry about making the top-115 placement needed to retain his place on the circuit next season.
And with his playing privileges secure, he can now look forward to the HSBC Champions Tournament next month.
'It's your career, your future lies on this game and a few quid makes such a difference,' Bickerton acknowledged. 'I moved down five spots last week, but it made me more determined and it's nice to pull it off under pressure.'
Kirk and Little tied for second place at 5-under-par 279 after final rounds of 69 and 72, respectively.
Little stumbled a bit after beginning the day just one stroke off Bickerton's overnight lead, but the second-place finish is the best of his career. Kirk, a second-division Challenge Tour player, may have played his way into the European Tour for next season.
There were plenty of good scores Sunday, but Bickerton ran away from the field by playing his first 10 holes at 3-under-par. He dropped a stroke at the par-3 12th -- just his fifth bogey of the tournament -- but by that time the title was all but in hand.
Another Englishman, Mark Roe, was 1 over in his final round and shared fourth place with Sweden's Johan Axgren (70) and Scotland's Marc Warren (69). The trio came in at minus-4.
For Roe, it was his best finish in four years. Coming into the tournament ranked 117th on the Order of Merit, he needed a good finish to secure his card for next year.
'That was hard work,' said the 42-year-old Roe. 'It does not get any easier the older you get.'
This tournament was the fourth and final dual-ranking event for the European and Challenge Tours this year. The field is watered-down with most of the world's top players competing at the WGC-American Express Championship in the United States.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Abama Open de Canarias
  • Full Coverage - Abama Open de Canarias