There’s a hard edge to Denmark’s Anders Hansen, the new Volvo PGA Championship winner. He says it’s something that came from playing college golf in the United States.
Hansen strolled to a five-shot triumph over Colin Montgomerie and Eduardo Romero to record his first PGA European Tour victory May 26 in the $3.5 million Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth. Rounds of 68-65-66-70 gave him a 19-under-par 269 and earned him approximately $486,411, the biggest check of his career.
Montgomerie and Romero finished at 274 to earn about $253,486 each. Michael Camp-bell of New Zealand, Spain’s Carlos Rodiles and England’s Nick Faldo tied for fourth at 276.
The 31-year-old Hansen took control of the tournament with a second-round 65 and never looked back. With a five-shot lead over Rodiles after three rounds, Hansen never really was challenged Sunday.
The former two-time Danish Amateur champion was so nervous before the final round that he hardly slept the night before. Then he arrived on the first tee Sunday feeling the pressure of trying to win his first European Tour event.
“I felt absolutely horrible out there,” he said. “It was the hardest 18 holes I’ve ever played in my entire life. I felt stomach cramps, but dealing with the pressure helped me through today.
“To sit here today as winner of this tournament is beyond my wildest fantasy.”
Hansen set the record for the lowest winning score in Volvo PGA Championship history, bettering the 18-under mark shared by Bernhard Langer (1987) and Montgomerie (1999). He is the first player to make the Volvo PGA Championship his first European Tour victory.
Hansen was a member of the University of Houston golf team from 1991-95, and won two tournaments for the Cougars. He said college golf was the perfect grounding for life as a professional.
“Going to Houston was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Hansen said. “It taught me to be competitive, and it taught me that I was good enough to make it as a professional.”
Hansen turned pro in 1995, but it took four trips to the European Tour Qualifying School before he finally made it on tour. He kept his card in 1999 and has been on tour since.
Previously, his best finish in Europe was a tie for third in this year’s French Open. His Volvo victory gives him a five-year exemption and an automatic invite to the British Open.
Montgomerie played with a bad back for the second week in a row. He said he would have withdrawn from the tournament if it hadn’t been the tour’s flagship event.
“Considering my back, I feel I’ve done awfully well this week,” said Montgomerie, who lost a playoff to Tiger Woods at the Deutsche Bank – SAP Open May 20.
Faldo started the final day tied for fourth, eight out of the lead. His ultimate goal was first or second. He needed to finish runner-up or better to move into the top 50 in the World Rankings and receive an automatic invitation to the U.S. Open.
“I made a few silly mistakes, but generally it was good stuff,” Faldo said. “It was a good week. . . . I’ve just got to fine-tune a few little things.”
Faldo has entered U.S. Open qualifying, but left Wentworth undecided on whether to try to qualify for what would be his 60th consecutive major championship. (He is scheduled to compete at the 36-hole qualifier June 3 at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.)
“I don’t know yet,” Faldo said. “I have to look at my schedule. Everything comes to an end, doesn’t it?”