If John Daly could have limited his bogeys in the final round of the Benson & Hedges International Open, he might have hoisted the trophy.
But Argentina’s Angel Cabrera took the $268,560 first-place check May 12 when he fired a final-round 69, completing the tournament at 10-under 278.
Daly finished the tournament tied for ninth, five strokes behind Cabrera, and he probably will mark it down as a tournament that got away. He had eight birdies in his final-round 70, but he also had six bogeys. After the tournament, Daly pondered the possibilities.
“Tiger (Woods) would have made eight birdies today, but he wouldn’t have made as many bogeys,” Daly said. “He might have made one or two, and that’s the difference between him and me. I make enough birdies to be in contention, but I miss a short putt here, a missed chip there. He doesn’t do that.”
Daly had an allergic reaction to diet pills that caused numbness in his arm the Saturday before his visit to The Belfry, so he wasn’t too unhappy with the way he played.
“I was surprised I played so well this week,” Daly said. “It’s nice to come around here and make eight birdies because this course doesn’t give up birdies, so it means I’m hitting some good shots.”
Barry Lane finished second at 9 under after closing with a disappointing 73 to earn $179,063. Michael Campbell, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington tied for third at 8 under to earn $82,265 each.
Cabrera, among the longest hitters in Europe, won for the second time on the European Tour. The surprising part of this victory, which followed his triumph in the 2001 Argentine Open, is that much of the credit goes to his short game. Cabrera, 32, got up-and-down from 40 yards on the 72nd hole to save par and seal the victory.
“I was just trying to make a 4,” he said. “I knew that 4 would be good enough to win so I tried to make a good chip.”
The B&H is one of the biggest tournaments in Europe, and Cabrera is well aware of what the victory does for his career.
“Winning this tournament leads me to believe I can go on to bigger things,” said Cabrera, who broke a four-way tie with a birdie at No. 17. “It is very valuable to have won here because of the strong field.”
He now has his sights set on the upper reaches of the Order of Merit.
“Last year, I played a lot in America and that put me behind in the Order of Merit,” he said. “This year I will play more in Europe to try to get into the top five on the money list.”
For the second week in a row it looked as if an elder European Tour statesmen would take top honors in Europe. Lane, 41, nearly overcame seven years of frustration to follow Malcolm Mackenzie’s French Open victory.
Lane held a three-stroke lead at one point and was 10 under on the 16th fairway, but he three-putted that green.
“Under the conditions, I played OK today,” Lane said. “I three-putted 16, which was my main error. All in all, I’m not too disappointed. My performance this week has been good.”