FISHER FULFILS HIS POTENTIAL
Padraig Harrington says nobody should be shocked at the way England’s Ross Fisher became the European Open champion.
Padraig Harrington says nobody should be shocked at the way England’s Ross Fisher became the European Open champion.this weekend.
The 27-year-old from Wentworth captured his second Tour title by a magnificent seven-stroke margin at The London Golf Club’s Heritage Course, completing his runaway 20-under-par rout of the strong field by holing a bunker shot at the last.
“That’s what dreams are made of,” said Fisher, who had never seen the course until he hit a record 63 last Thursday and who had even come close to not playing the event because of tiredness.
Harrington, joint 17th but a massive 18 strokes behind, said of the winner’s performance: “I don’t think anybody out here would be surprised.
“He’s well capable of doing this and more regularly.”
The £400,000 took Fisher from 21st to 11th in the Ryder Cup race and from 23rd to sixth on the Order of Merit. His world ranking will be up as well, of course, nearly 50 places from his previous 104th.
However fatigued he felt this morning – leading from wire to wire is especially hard work – the former amateur international was still planning to fly north for the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, starting on Thursday.
Then it is on to Royal Birkdale for The Open. He did not even have a place in that until he finished joint third in last Monday’s international qualifier at Sunningdale.
“This is a massive achievement for myself,” he added. “Most of the guys say that the first win is hard, but the second is even harder.
“It was a strange week really. No practice round, a course record, four rounds under 70 in very testing conditions – a phenomenal victory.
“For some reason I felt a sense of calmness inside. I drove the ball nigh-on perfect all week and told myself to stay patient and believe in my ability.”
He has always had that, but a closing 84 in last year’s BMW PGA Championship on his home course, when he was co-leader with a round to go, was a huge disappointment.
November brought another. He was one ahead of Phil Mickelson with one hole to play in the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, but after the world number two hit his second shot to the par five in a lake, Fisher chipped over the green into the water himself, ran up a double-bogey seven and lost the play-off.
“This showed I can play to the standard I am capable of.
“I turn up every week believing I can win, but there are a lot of good golfers out here,” he continued.
“I felt I out-played Phil for two days, but now it feels I am back where I belong among the best in the world.
“Mentally strong, physically tough is where I am right now and it showed this week to blow the field away.”
Sergio Garcia’s runners-up finish moves him up from fifth to second on the Ryder Cup standings – great news for captain Nick Faldo – while third-placed Graeme McDowell replaces Nick Dougherty in the top 10.
David Frost, the 48-year-old South African, had an added reward for his fourth spot, collecting the Open Championship place on offer to the leading non-qualified player.
Next week’s defending champion Harrington will first of all try for a repeat win in the Irish PGA Championship, while Garcia heads home for a week’s practice.
Colin Montgomerie, joint fifth at halfway, finished his defence of the European Open with a closing 77 to drop to 24th, while Justin Rose was 38th after a Saturday 77 ended his chances.
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