Ross raises his sights

Ross McGowan hopes his first pro win is a launchpad to better things – maybe even a Ryder Cup debut.

Ross McGowan hopes his first European Tour win at the Madrid Open on Sunday is a launchpad to better things – maybe even a Ryder Cup debut next year.
The 27-year-old from Surrey took the Madrid event by three on Sunday – he had been seven clear after Saturday’s amazing 60 – and with it moved to second spot in the race for places in Colin Montgomerie’s 2010 Ryder Cup side.
These are still very early days, of course – but McGowan has finished third, sixth and first in his last three tournaments and has broken 70 no fewer than 10 out of 12 times in that spell.
“It means a lot to win. That’s another goal out of the way, and I hope from here I can progress and move on to bigger things,” said the former English amateur champion, whose victory on Sunday earned him just over £227,000.
Also celebrating last night was ex-British amateur champion Mikko Ilonen.
Having found himself 12 off the lead after an opening 74 at Centro Nacional, the Finn had back-to-back 63s and then a closing 66 to take second place and clinch a Tour card for next season.
He cut the gap to only two coming down the hom stretch, but McGowan birdied the 15th and then got lucky on the par-five last when his pulled approach finished just a few feet from the lake on wooden sleepers and he was able to go on and par the hole.
David Drysdale took third place. But pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia, who had been joint halfway leader with the Scot, dropped away to 17th.
Garcia still has not managed a top-three finish this year and has dropped from second in the world to eighth.
This week’s Portugal Masters features a much stronger field – linked, inevitably, to the fact that there is a lot more money up for grabs.
Rory McIlroy – who took over top spot on the European money list last Monday – faces a line-up that includes Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen, former Open champion Ben Curtis and Robert Karlsson.