Retief Goosen claims Order of Merit

U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen became the first South African since 1975 to capture the Order of Merit Oct. 28, clinching the European No. 1 spot by capturing the Telefonica Open de Madrid in a playoff over England’s Steve Webster.

Goosen’s closest competitor for the Order of Merit was Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland. But with the victory in Spain, Goosen has won 2,801,351 euro (approximately $2.5 million for the year). Clarke’s sixth-place tie in Madrid put him at 1,850, 697 euro (approximately $1.65 million).

“Darren Clarke left me with no option but to play this week after he entered, and it’s nice to win this tournament and pull off the Volvo Order of Merit for the first time,” Goosen said. “It’s a great feeling, especially with so many great names on the Harry Vardon Trophy, such as (Seve) Ballesteros, (Nick) Faldo and (Colin) Montgomerie. I have a long way to go to catch Monty’s seven victories in a row but I regard this as a great honor.”

Goosen became the first non-European to top the Order of Merit since Greg Norman in 1982 and the first from his country to win since Dale Hayes in ’75.

Goosen shot 66-64-66-68, and Webster shot 68-62-68-66 in a bid for his first European Tour title in his 150th start. England’s Brian Davis closed with 62 and tied for third with Spaniard Diego Borrego, who almost won the tournament when his second shot hit the 18th hole and bounced out.

Borrego two-putted on No. 18 for a share of third, jumped from 140th to 98th place on the Order of Merit and ensured his European Tour card for 2002.

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