2002: Out of the shadows

Saint-Nom-La-Breteche, France

Germany’s Alex Cejka earned his fourth PGA European Tour title Oct. 13, but victory was hardly a familiar feeling.

It had been a long time.

“I have been waiting since 1995 and it has been seven long years,” said the 31-year-old German, who won three times in ’95 and finally broke through again last weekend at the Trophee Lancome. “It was hard at times, but I put in a lot of hard work in that time.

“I stayed patient when things were not going well, so I am very happy right now.”

Patience has been important for Cejka, who was sixth on the Order of Merit when he had his big season in ’95. In the six seasons since, he has finished 90th, 59th, 34th, 17th, 70th and 51st on the money list.

After bringing home 239,640 euros (approximately $231,500) at Saint-Nom-la-Breteche, Cejka is 21st on the Order of Merit.

Spain’s Carlos Rodiles shot a final-round 66 but finished second by two strokes. Cejka began the day tied for the lead with Maarten Lafeber of the Netherlands, and his final-round 68 was good enough for a much-awaited return to victory. Lafeber shot 73 to fall into a tie for 13th.

Thirty-one players were within five shots of the lead when the final round began, so Cejka’s victory was anything but a cakewalk.

“I didn’t have anything else in mind today apart from trying to make good shot after good shot, hole after hole,” Cejka said. “I tried not to make any stupid mistakes, and it worked to perfection.”

There were moments of concern for Cejka, particularly when he blocked his drive into the trees at No. 15. But a bit of good fortune gave him an escape route through the branches and he salvaged par 4.

“I needed a bit of luck, as all winners do,” Cejka said. “I got the luck when I needed it, and tried to stay calm.”

Sergio Garcia was unsuccessful in his bid to repeat as champion in France. He shot 69 in the final round, and finished in an eight-way tie for fifth place at 8 under par.

But the best round of the week was turned

in Sunday by Mark Pilkington of Wales, who shot a course-record 62. Pilkington, 24, moved from a tie for 61st at the start of the day into a tie for 13th.

– Staff and wire reports

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