Karlsson triumphs by four shots

European Tour

Tournament: The Deutsche Bank Players Championship of Europe
Venue: Gut Kaden, Hamburg, Germany
Winner Robert Karlssen

Robert Karlsson cooly claimed his second European Tour title in less than two months at Hamburg’s Gut Kaden on Sunday and is now almost certain of automatic qualification for September’s Ryder Cup.
The big Swede, the overnight leader by two shots, stumbled at the 17th with a double bogey, but seven earlier birdies had put him so far ahead of the chasing pack it really didn’t matter and in the end his 5-under 67 and 25-under 72-hole tally of 263 was more than enough to give him the coveted Deutsche Bank Players Championship by all of four shots.
Lee Westwood, the first-round leader after a stunning course record 63, wasn’t able to win this one, but three birdies on the last four holes and a closing 69 did enable him to tie South Africa’s latest star of the future, the pencil slim 21-year-old Charl Schwartzel, for second place and strengthen the impression that the stocky Englishman is solidly set on the comeback trail
Schwartzel, 2nd at the Barclay’s Scottish Open and 22nd last week at the 135th Open Championship, matched Karlsson’s 67, but the best round of day was fired by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell who closed with his 2nd consecutive 65 to share 4th place with Schwartzel’s more famous compatriot Retief Goosen, Italian Emanuele Canonica and 24-year-old Argentine Tour rookie Andres Romero who shot a 66
Karlsson came agonisingly close to making the team in 1999, finishing 11th in the standings and ninth in the final counting event in Munich before being controversially overlooked for a wild card by captain Mark James.
He admitted during his Wales Open victory in June that it was a “heartbreaking” decision and insisted on not looking ahead to the contest at the K Club in September.
“It will be fantastic to be in the team but that’s a bonus for playing well,” he said.
“Come September that will be something to think about.
On Sunday Karlsson immediately saw his two-shot overnight lead cut to one as Westwood birdied the first from 10 feet.
He went two clear again with a birdie on the par-five third and was crucially handed some breathing space when Westwood ran up a double bogey on the fourth after finding a water hazard with his approach and fluffing his pitch to the green.
“That was actually the toughest period of the round because it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘now I’m probably so many ahead,”‘ Karlsson insisted.
“It was easier when he was closer in a way, easier for me to be really focused on what I was doing.
“I had to keep reminding myself to keep playing because there were so many holes to go.”
A long birdie putt on the 7th briefly took Karlsson five clear of the chasing pack but Romero then birdied four out of five holes from the ninth to get within two shots.
Karlsson responded superbly with an approach to two feet for birdie on the 11th and was again given a helping hand from his rivals when Romero ran up a double-bogey five on the 14th.
That effectively sealed victory for by then Karlsson was so far ahead he could even afford the luxury of losing a ball on the 18th and running up that double-bogey six.
Westwood, who moved to 21st in the cup standings with his best finish this season, said: “Even after the fourth hole I felt like I had a chance, especially when I birdied the 10th to get within three shots.
“But then Robert hit two great shots into the 11th for birdie and I three-putted the 12th, so that was it really there.
“But I was pleased to birdie three of the last four. I hit three great drives there so I’m pleased with that.
“The way I have been playing, second is not too bad. I have not been in contention for a while now and this is a nice progression.
“I have a couple of weeks off now and I am looking forward to the PGA. This will lift me up the world rankings, which I needed to do, and I should be inside the top 50 now and so I am quite positive for the rest of the year.”
McDowell gave his slim Ryder Cup chances a boost with two rounds of 65 over the weekend but will not chase more points over the next two weeks in favour of a much-needed rest.
“That’s a nice little birthday present but it’s not going to get me rushing to Sweden (for the Scandinavian Masters),” said McDowell, who led after the first round of the Open last week before fading to 61st.
“I’m really tired and haven’t been on my game, especially on Thursday and Friday. I slept well on Friday after making the cut and had a nice weekend. I’ve not been on top of my mental game and not firing on all cylinders at the weekend. Knowing I had time off made me relax and take the pressure off.
“I’ve made mistakes with my schedule this year, playing too much, and I’m not going to do that again.”
ALL THE FINAL ROUND SCORES
(Gbr and Ire unless stated – par 72)
263 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 64 66 66 67
267 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 68 64 68 67, Lee Westwood 63 68 67 69
268 Graeme McDowell 68 70 65 65, Andres Romero (Arg) 70 65 67 66, Retief Goosen (RSA) 64 68 69 67, Emanuele Canonica (Ita) 67 68 66 67 )
269 Gary Orr 67 64 70 68
270 Soren Hansen (Den) 70 67 66 67, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 69 66 67 68
272 Christian Nilsson (Swe) 67 66 73 66, Niclas Fasth (Swe) 68 66 70 68, Ian Woosnam 65 66 69 72
273 Tim Clark (RSA) 68 69 68 68
274 Angel Cabrera (Arg) 66 71 69 68, Luke Donald 67 66 71 70, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 68 69 66 71
275 Jarmo Sandelin (Swe) 71 68 71 65, Anthony Wall 72 66 69 68, Paul McGinley 70 66 69 70, Daniel Vancsik (Arg) 69 66 67 73
276 Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 68 69 73 66, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 72 66 71 67, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 70 66 70, Ian Poulter 68 67 70 71, Matthew Millar (Aus) 67 69 68 72, Garry Houston 66 68 69 73
277 Simon Khan 67 70 73 67, Sven Struver (Ger) 68 70 70 69, Todd Hamilton (USA) 71 69 68 69, Markus Brier (Aut) 74 65 67 71, Padraig Harrington 68 65 72 72, Damien McGrane 69 66 70 72
278 Mark Foster 70 70 72 66, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 69 67 72 70, Stephen Gallacher 66 72 70 70
279 Graeme Storm 67 69 75 68, Mattias Eliasson (Swe) 69 69 72 69, Leif Westerberg (Swe) 70 69 70 70, Jean-Francois Remesy (Fra) 65 70 73 71, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 71 68 69 71, Gary Emerson 68 69 70 72, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 67 71 69 72, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 68 67 69 75
280 Mikael Lundberg (Swe) 69 68 71 72, Richard McEvoy 71 69 68 72, Christian Cevaer (Fra) 67 71 69 73, Anders Hansen (Den) 69 66 71 74, Johan Edfors (Swe) 68 67 69 76
281 Tom Whitehouse 74 65 72 70, Phillip Price 70 70 70 71, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 70 70 70 71, Steven O’Hara 71 69 69 71
282 Alastair Forsyth 68 72 72 70, Andrew McLardy (Rsa) 68 69 73 72, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 70 70 70 72, Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra) 67 72 68 75, Gregory Havret (Fra) 65 70 70 77
283 Fredrik Widmark (Swe) 70 70 74 69, Bernhard Langer (Ger) 71 69 74 69, Michael Campbell (Nzl) 70 69 71 73, Peter Gustafsson (Swe) 68 71 71 73, Jamie Spence 72 68 70 73, Phillip Archer 68 71 70 74, Joakim Backstrom (Swe) 71 68 69 75
284 Jose Manuel Lara (Spa) 70 70 71 73, Tino Schuster (