Thursday 24 January 2019

Bjorn eyes further glory after win in Qatar

Thomas Bjorn hopes his victory at the Qatar Masters can be a springboard to bigger things -- and this year in particular there is nothing bigger to him than the Open Championship.

Golf's oldest major returns in July to Royal St George's in Kent, the course where the Dane self-destructed eight years ago.

Three shots ahead with only four holes to play back in 2003, Bjorn bogeyed the 15th, double-bogeyed the short 16th after needing three attempts to get out of a bunker, and then dropped another shot on 17.

The former Ryder Cup star has not come anywhere remotely near to the title since and did not even qualify for the event in 2008 and 2009, but now his goal is to be everywhere that matters for the rest of the season.

"It's a big win and hopefully it can push me onto bigger things," said Bjorn after his four-stroke success over Spain's Alvaro Quiros in Doha. "When I play like this I know I can play against the best."

Only 134th in the world when he teed off yesterday Bjorn should now be part of the elite 64-man field at the Accenture world match play championship in Arizona later this month.


First, though, comes this week's Dubai Desert Classic, scene of perhaps his best-ever win a decade ago.

On that occasion, Bjorn played all four rounds with Tiger Woods and beat him by two. At the time, Woods held three of the four majors and was about to complete the set with another win at the Masters.

Now the American returns without a major to his name and with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer ahead of him on the world rankings.

Westwood missed the cut in Qatar, but Kaymer came only 28th when he needed a top-two finish to dethrone his Ryder Cup team-mate. Both are also in this week's field.

Meanwhile, Mark Wilson showed nerves of steel as he sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-three 12th to move two strokes clear at 18-under-par, but the final round of the weather-hit Phoenix Open will finish today.

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