Quiet Dodd makes noises

European Tour

Tournament: Smurfit European Open
Venue: The K Club, Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Winner: Stephen Dodd

Stephen Dodd, perhaps the quietest man on the entire European Tour, has a lot to shout about again after landing the biggest solo victory of his career.
Eight months after sharing World Cup glory for Wales with Bradley Dredge – and six days before his 40th birthday – Dodd did it all on his own this time to win the Smurfit Kappa European Open at the K Club near Dublin.
The Barry golfer, who had 10 trips to the tour’s qualifying school before breaking through in China at the end of 2005, beat England’s Anthony Wall and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara by two after making birdie putts of six feet on the 16th and then a monster of around 50 feet at the par-three next.
Dodd, competing only a few miles from the scene of his Irish Open triumph last year, defied strong winds to return a two-under-par closing 70 and took the £400,000 first prize with a nine-under total of 279.
It is a victory that suddenly revives his bid for a return to the venue for September’s Ryder Cup. That appeared to be disappearing over the horizon with him only 90th on the Order of Merit this season.
Dodd stood a lowly 47th on the Ryder Cup table coming into the week, but is now up to 16th with eight weeks left and all of them huge money events.
“I’ve not given that much thought,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of form coming here, but golf’s golf and you don’t know what’s around the corner.
“The Ryder Cup’s a long way off. There are a lot of tournaments to play and I suppose your form can go as quickly as it comes.
“Of course I’d like to play. It’s everybody’s dream to play in it.”
Asked what he had planned for his 40th next Saturday, he added: “Hopefully I’ll be playing golf at Loch Lomond. Nothing else.” The Scottish Open starts on Thursday.
Overnight leader Lara was still ahead with seven to play, but as he bogeyed the next three holes Dodd grabbed his two late birdies.
Even though Lara then birdied the same two holes he was left needing an eagle on the 578-yard 18th to tie, but he drove into sand and had to lay up short of the water.
That gave Londoner Wall a chance to tie for second and he did it in dramatic fashion with a 35-foot birdie putt – one which qualifies him for the Open at Hoylake in two weeks’ time.
One spot for the leading non-exempt player was on offer and with Dodd already in the field, Wall took it ahead of Lara by virtue of having the better last day score, 73 to 74.
“I wasn’t aware of what was at stake over that putt. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid,” said Wall.
“It was an important putt for two reasons – from the money aspect (he earned £208,450 rather than £150,240) and because I no longer need to worry about getting into the Open.”
Joint third – and great news for Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam – were Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood as well as Indian Jeev Milkha Singh and Westwood’s fellow Englishmen Simon Khan and Graeme Storm.
McGinley and Westwood, members of the last two sides, have gone through horrid recent slumps, but came charging through the field after just surviving the halfway cut.
Dubliner McGinley was actually at the airport ready to go home on Friday afternoon, but just as his flight was delayed because of a bomb scare his wife rang and said he suddenly had a chance of qualifying.
The 2002 match-winner at The Belfry fired weekend rounds of 67 and 69 and said: “If EI169 had not been delayed I would have been flying over the course, not playing on it.
“This is just two rounds – let’s get it into perspective – but the ball’s in my court.” He is up to seventh in the cup standings.
Westwood still has a lot of catching up to do at 31st, but after missing seven successive cuts this was a huge improvement.
He closed with 67 and 70 and certainly impressed his last day playing partner, American captain Tom Lehman, whom he out-scored by six.
There was one moment for Westwood he did not want anybody to see, though. Trying to make the green in two at the last off a difficult lie he duffed his three-wood.
“That was fairly embarrassing,” said the Worksop golfer. “I thought maybe they (the crowd) wouldn’t notice the club because it was the perfect lay-up, but then I heard laughing out on the right.
“My caddie was laughing and then I started laughing.”
Khan’s bonus for his joint third place was that he did just enough to edge out Australian Nick O’Hern and with Order of Merit leader David Howell has qualified for the HSBC World Match Play at Wentworth in September, where golf’s biggest first prize of £1million will be on offer.

Final scores:
279 Stephen Dodd 67 69 73 70
281 Anthony Wall 70 68 70 73, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa) 72 68 67 74
282 Paul McGinley 75 71 67 69, Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 70 68 74 70, Graeme Storm 70 73 69 70, Lee Westwood 70 75 67 70, Simon Khan 68 73 68 73
283 Simon Dyson 69 74 71 69, Colin Montgomerie 69 71 72 71, Peter Hanson (Swe) 68 74 69 72, Bradley Dredge 65 70 75 73
284 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 73 69 75 67, Steven O’Hara 71 69 70 74
285 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 69 74 71 71
286 Anders Hansen (Den) 69 72 74 71, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 66 78 69 73, Jamie Spence 68 72 69 77
287 Richard Green (Aus) 73 68 73 73, Peter O’Malley (Aus) 67 74 73 73, Padraig Harrington 70 75 69 73, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 70 73 70 74, Tom Lehman (USA) 71 70 70 76, Paul Casey 66 73 71 77
289 Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra) 71 73 73 72, Graeme McDowell 69 76 72 72, Sam Little 72 70 74 73, Kenneth Ferrie 73 72 70 74, Emanuele Canonica (Ita) 72 70 71 76
290 Soren Hansen (Den) 72 70 77 71, Simon Wakefield 70 72 74 74, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 71 70 74 75, Damien McGrane 69 72 73 76
291 Steve Webster 70 73 77 71, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 69 69 79 74, Markus Brier (Aut) 73 71 72 75, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 69 72 74 76, Niclas Fasth (Swe) 65 75 74 77, Stephen Browne 73 67 72 79
292 Phillip Archer 72 70 74 76, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 70 71 71 80
293 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 67 76 75 75, Marcel Siem (Ger) 71 72 72 78, Andres Romero (Arg) 71 75 68 79
294 Christian Cevaer (Fra) 71 69 78 76, Jamie Donaldson 70 73 75 76, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 73 72 73 76, David Griffiths 71 75 71 77, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 77 68 71 78, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 73 71 80
295 Mark Foster 73 71 76 75, Ian Poulter 72 72 75 76, David Park 72 73 73 77, Peter Baker 70 74 71 80
296 Andrew Coltart 70 75 76 75, Tom Whitehouse 72 74 75 75, Eduardo Romero (Arg) 71 72 77 76, David Higgins 74 72 73 77, Peter Senior (Aus) 73 73 70 80
297 Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 68 78 73 78, Andrew Marshall 74 72 73 78, Mattias Eliasson (Swe) 71 73 74 79
298 Leif Westerberg (Swe) 70 73 76 79
299 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 75 71 74 79
300 Marcus Fraser (Aus) 72 73 79 76, Philip Golding 71 74 75 80, Gary Emerson 70 71 77 82
301 Steven Jeppesen (Swe) 75 70 79 77, Peter Gustafsson (Swe) 70 75 74 82
302 Marc Cayeux (Zim) 73 71 80 78, Michael Kirk (Rsa) 74 69 78 81
303 Miguel Carballo (Arg) 73 73 76 81, Simon Thornton 76 70 76 81, David Dixon 75 71 74 83

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