2003: Owen cruises as others prepare

Meriden, England

Several top players were using the British Masters as a tune-up for the U.S. Open – with varying degrees of success – but it wasn’t one of the big names who walked away with victory.

Greg Owen of England won by three strokes June 8 for his first victory in six years on the PGA European Tour.

Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke (66) and England’s Justin Rose (67), both preparing for the U.S. Open, recorded their best scores of the week on Sunday. Clarke had the day’s best round and finished tied for fourth at 8 under par, six shots behind Owen. Rose tied for 24th at 4 under.

Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, also heading to the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, Ill., missed the cut Friday for the second consecutive week and the seventh time this year.

Clarke, who won the English Open on the Forest of Arden course in 2000 and again last year, had a frustrating week.

“The first two rounds here (71-71) I hit the ball worse than I have all year,” Clarke said. “The last two (72-66) I hit exactly as I have all year. There’s nothing more I can do tee to green.”

Rose, who will be playing in his first U.S. Open, had six birdies and a bogey.

“I still need a little more work,” he said. “My swing is not in the slot to hit iron shots at the flag. It’s not precise enough yet.”

Owen wasn’t all that precise Sunday, but he closed with a 1-under 71 for a 14-under 274 total. England’s Ian Poulter (70) and France’s Christian Cevaer (68) shared second at 277.

Clarke, England’s Robert Rock (68) and England’s Anthony Wall (71) were next at 280.

Owen came close to victory in April at the Portugese Open, where he led by three shots after two rounds before finishing fifth. His breakthrough in the British Masters came in his 158th European Tour event.

“In Portugal I tried too hard to win it,” said the Englishman. “Obviously, I’ve waited for another chance, and to win in England, so close to home, is fantastic.”

Owen began the final round four shots ahead of the field, and the 31-year-old never was seriously challenged.

– Staff and wire reports

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