2004: Journeyman Tunnicliff takes trip to top

Gleneagles, Scotland

After the third round of the Scottish PGA’s Diageo Championship, Miles Tunnicliff spoke of being “disappointed” despite holding a three-stroke lead. After the tournament was concluded June 13, however, he was singing a different tune.

“I am just so pleased at the way I played,” said Tunnicliff, who shot a 4-under 68 in the final round to win the event by five strokes. It was the largest margin of victory on the PGA European Tour this year. “I was just so focused all day.”

Tunnicliff had four birdies Sunday on Gleneagles’ Centenary course and finished 13 under to win his second European title.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell was second after shooting a final-round 67. But even a run of five consecutive birdies from Nos. 8 to 12 Sunday didn’t get him within striking distance.

“I would certainly have taken 67 standing on the first tee, that’s for sure,” said McDowell, who moves to 17th on the European Ryder Cup points list with 606,971 points. “Miles had a great week. There didn’t seem to be any catching him.”

McDowell’s slim hopes were dashed on No. 16, when he double bogeyed the par-5 hole.

Tunnicliff, a 35-year-old Englishman who lives in Malaga, Spain, has bumped his way around European

circuits since turning pro in 1989. He made a living on the Challenge Tour before finally graduating from European Tour Qualifying School on his seventh try in 1993.

Tunnicliff had trouble keeping his card, however, and had to go back to Q-School six times between 1993 and 2001. Each time he was successful. He broke through with a victory at The Great North Open in 2002.

“The first win is always nice, but if you can follow it up, it just confirms you are a winner,” Tunnicliff said Sunday. “It just took me a while.”

The 2002 victory was a heart-warming story, coming only two weeks after his mother, Pam, died of cancer. But Tunnicliff could not keep the momentum going and didn’t have another top-10 in 2002. He also failed to register a top-10 in 2003, but he seems to have turned a corner this year.

Sunday’s victory at Gleneagles was his third top-10 this season, following a tie for fifth at the South African Airways Open and a tie for seventh at the Canarias Open de Espana.

Tunnicliff’s Diageo triumph was worth 349,615 euros (approximately $420,000) and he moved to No. 13 on the Order of Merit with 481,795 euros. Coming into this season, his career earnings totaled 627,768 euros.

“Next time (I win) I hope it won’t be considered a shock,” Tunnicliff said.

– Staff and wire reports

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