Skold Earns Top Card at European Q-School


Johan Skold posted a 2-under 70 to finish with a 108-hole score of 17-under 415 and win the European Qualifying School finals Monday. The Swede topped the group of 35 players who earned their cards for the 2002 schedule after six rounds at The San Roque Club & Real Club de Golf Sotogrande.
Christophe Pottier of France finished second at 15-under 417, while England's Nick Dougherty was third at 14-under 418.
Skold will make his full return to the European tour after losing his card following the 2000 season.
'I played well all week,' said Skold. 'I felt really confident. It was so important to get the top card. It gets me into the bigger events. I couldn't have done any better this week. The first year on tour I only got into 13 events. Now I know all the guys and know my way around the tour now. I'm feeling more confident about next year. I've got the opportunity to play among the best.'
Skold could have asked for a better start to his final round. The 26-year-old opened with a double-bogey on the first and added a bogey on the fourth. Skold was able to regain his composure with back-to-back birdies from the fifth and added two more on the ninth and 10th. A birdie on the 15th secured the top honors.
Pottier also shot a 70 for his second-place finish. The Frenchman will play his rookie season on the European circuit in 2002 after 10 years as a professional.
'I'm very happy. I won for the first time on the Challenge Tour this year and this just caps a great season,' said Pottier, who captured the Skandia PGA Open in August.
Dougherty, the youngest player in the field at 19, carded a bogey-free round of 3-under 69 for third place.
'Got the job done,' said Dougherty, a member of the 2001 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team. 'I could be disappointed that I didn't win but you come here to get a European Tour card and I have achieved that.'
David Park, who came into the final round leading the field, struggled to finish with an 80. He dropped into a tie for 12th, nonetheless earning his card under category 11. The Welshman was one of four European Tour winners to earn their 2002 cards.
Spain's Santiago Luna, who captured the 1995 Madeira Island Open, finished in joint-eighth. Russell Claydon of England, winner of the 1998 BMW International, tied for 12th and 1993 BMW International winner Peter Fowler of Australia finished of in 28th place.
Robert Coles will return to the main circuit after falling right on the qualifying-mark of 5-under 427. The Englishman was saved by an eagle from 25 feet on the last hole. Three other players finished tied for 33rd, including Germany's Marcel Siem, who earned the 36th and final card.
Those players who failed to earn their playing rights for next year included three former Ryder Cup players. England's Steven Richardson bogeyed the last hole to finish at 4-under 428, while Philip Walton and Paul Broadhurst finished well off pace.
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