Richard Sterne
Richard Sterne wins European PGA Tour's Wales Open

South Africa's Richard Sterne shot a final round 65 to win the European PGA Tour's 2007 Celtic Manor Wales Open yesterday.

Sterne ended up 13-under-par to finish one shot ahead of a group of four players, including Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, Singapore's Mardan Mamat and Wales' own Bradley Dredge.

"It is always difficult when you are knocking on the door and you don't win but I was playing well again this week and to get the breakthrough means a lot. It is a fantastic place here and so to win here makes it even more special," Sterne told reporters.

"I was swinging well but didn't get off to the best of starts which was strange. But my caddie said I was swinging well and anything could happen and I said to him coming down the seventh, if I can make six birdies coming in I'll have a chance and I made my sixth one on the 18th and I was quite happy about that.

"Obviously the crowd didn't want a South African to win but in sport strange things can happen. Bradley is a great player and he has been close a few times in his career as well and unfortunately that is how it goes. I am just happy to have made that putt."

It was a fiercely competitive tournament, which set a European Tour record when nine players found themselves tied for the first round lead last Thursday.

A half dozen were tied for the lead entering the final round of play, and Sterne's own round started off terribly when he dropped three strokes in his first five holes.

But Sterne charged back. He birdied the par-4 seventh, and the lit the back nine on fire, with birdies on five of his last nine holes for a homeward 29.

But playing in the group behind him, Dredge, Wales' most famous current golfer, was also charging. He carded three birdies in a row to reach 13-under-par by the time he walked onto the final tee. He needed to par the par-4 18th to force a playoff for Dredge, who came in second to Padraig Harrington at the Irish Open two weeks ago. Instead, Dredge made a bogey after an errant tee shot and an approach that landed short of the green.

Sterne, 25, moved to No. 4 on the European Tour Order of Merit with his victory, and automatically qualified for next month's British Open.

June 4, 2007

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