Ian Woosnam could not provide the home supporters a Welsh victory on Sunday at Celtic Manor as Steen Tinning became the tenth first time winner on the European Tour this season winning the Wales Open with a 15 under par total of 273. The 37 year old Dane shot a closing 69 to edge David Howell into second place.
Tinning’s victory denied huge galleries the chance to witness a home winner. Ian Woosnam, bidding for his third win in Wales in a third different decade, had led after three rounds and looked a strong contender to walk off with the £125,000 first prize.
“This is something I always wanted to do and there would have been a big hole inside me if I hadn’t won a tournament on the European Tour. Something would have been missing, but now there is only one thing better and that was the birth of my two kids. Said Tinning
“I couldn’t enjoy it until the very last putt. It wasn’t very long but I was shaking so much that if it had been even six inches long I might have missed it! My career has been up and down with the car accident and the broken thumb, but this makes it all worthwhile.”
However, the 1991 Masters champion didn’t quite fire on all cylinders and after three rounds in the sixties, a closing 73 left him in a tie for third place with Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobsen on 276, 12 under par, and three behind Tinning.
As the final round progressed, it became a contest between Tinning and Howell, whose house guest for the week, Robert Coles, had set the new tournament alight on the first day with a marvellous eight under par 64.
The halfway lead was shared by Woosnam and McNulty, two men in their forties for whom the physically taxing Wentwood Hills course posed no terrors. A third round 66 left Woosnam alone in first place, one in front of Tinning who matched the Welshman’s six under par effort.
Three bogeys in the closing ten holes eliminated Woosnam from the equation and it was left to Howell to apply the pressure on Tinning. Five birdies in the first 13 holes lifted him to 15 under par and a two stroke lead. It appeared that the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic winner would claim his second title, but two holes changed the face of the tournament.
Howell missed the green at the short 14th and took a bogey. Tinning fired a wonderful five iron to one foot and tapped in for a two. Then at the 17th, with the Dane now two in front after a birdie at the 16th, the tournament was settled. Howell three putted, missing from three feet, while Tinning recovered from a bunkered tee shot to hole an eight footer for par.
Howell bravely birdied the last but admitted: “I couldn’t believe the three footer I missed as I had just made two great putts. Still, I’m delighted to be back in form after a bad year and it’s just a shame that I’ve come up one short.”
Woosnam, who enjoyed substantial vocal encouragement the entire week, concluded: “Things just didn’t click today. If I had played half decent I would have won the tournament. However I think it’s been a wonderful success. When you see all the people come out to support the tournament and players, it shows that it’s been a great event for Celtic Manor and Wales.”
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