2005: PGA Europe - Long-suffering Bjorn cures his woes

Meriden, England

Thomas Bjorn had been through one disintegrating finish too many. In fact, he has had a couple of performances that cynics might have said made him the PGA European Tour’s master of meltdowns.

Torn by what he called “internal demons,” he walked off the course during the European Open at The K Club in Ireland last July. This came after his stumble at the 2003 British Open, where he led with three holes to go at Royal St. George’s before losing to unheralded Ben Curtis.

So when he made par on the second playoff hole May 15 to outlast Brian Davis and David Howell and win the British Masters, Bjorn felt justice had been done.

“Winning on British soil is wonderful because all of my worst letdowns have been on British soil,” Bjorn said.

This, of course, doesn’t take into account Bjorn’s difficulties in that other Masters a couple months ago in Augusta. He was in third place entering the final round before shooting 81 and tumbling to a tie for 25th.

His victory Sunday was his eighth on the European Tour and first since the 2002 BMW International. Somehow it seemed fitting that Bjorn’s triumph came when another player surrendered a lead. Michael Campbell led by three strokes heading into the final round, but his Sunday 73 left him one shot out of the playoff.

“It was there for the taking. I tried to hole a few putts and they slipped by,” Campbell said. “I got frustrated.”

By all accounts, Bjorn had suffered enough.

“It has been a long time and hard work and there have been some tough times since I last won on the European Tour,” Bjorn said.

Davis made bogey on the first extra hole to exit the playoff. Howell made a terrific par save to stay alive on the first playoff hole (the 211-yard 18th), but when he made bogey the next time around, Bjorn calmly walked away with the British Masters trophy.

“I kept perfectly cool over the whole weekend and in the end it paid off,” Bjorn said.

A key moment of the final round came at No. 17, when Bjorn made eagle from 12 feet. He finished with 68, while Davis and Howell each shot 69. Howell could have won in regulation had he not made bogey on the 72nd hole.

“All the stuff I have been working on with my swing just didn’t stand up to the pressure there at the end,” Howell said. “Simple as that. Just needed one good swing on the last and just couldn’t do it.”

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