Steve Webster a winner at last in Italy
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2005 Italian Open | Wrap | 09 May 2005
Steve Webster today won his first event on the European Tour when he consolidated his third round lead at the Telecom Italian Open to eventually win by three over Anders Hansen, Richard Finch and Bradley Dredge. While the margin appears on paper to be a comfortable one, it was a tough struggle over the front nine today for the 30-year-old Englishman before he edged his way clear with a closing nine of four under 32 and the title was his.
Webster first joined the European Tour in 1996, after securing medallist honours at the Tour School the previous year, and while he has managed to retain his card in all but his first year, he has not been able to get across the line despite several near misses. He lost a playoff to Retief Goosen in Madrid in 2001 and in 2004 led into the final round of the ANZ Championship in Australia before finishing 6th there. He has been twice runner up in the South African Open but that first victory has been elusive.
This season Webster has had six top twenties in tens starts so while his form hasn’t exactly been spectacular it has been very solid. Perhaps his most intriguing effort in 2005 was in New Zealand when after a third round of 80 he proceeded to shoot 62 in the last round breaking the course record in the process. It would be hard to imagine many 18 shot swings in the golfing life of Steve Webster. He has proven to be a good Sunday player with eight of his ten final rounds in 2005 being a collective 37 under par.
Through eight holes today however things were not looking quite so good. He was one over for the day and at that stage shared the lead with Dredge. His birdie at the 9th however got him back in front and from that point on he continued to extend the lead to win by three.
Welshman Dredge held on, despite a bogey at the last, to share second with England’s Richard Finch and Denmark’s Anders Hansen. Finch, who was an outstanding amateur golfer including the Spanish and English Amateur Championships, is in his first season on the European Tour after a season on the Challenge Tour. He showed that he has benefited from that year by securing his European card at the Tour School late last year. This is his first top ten but the week will play a key role in establishing his professional career. Finch impressed today with the manner in which he played the closing nine holes after a shaky start to what was clearly an important occasion. Five birdies followed a bogey at the 8th to see him go a long way towards securing his playing privileges for 2006.
Hansen recorded his second consecutive top ten in the event following his 9th place last year. As was the case in the final round in 2004 he was around in 66 today.
Emanuele Canonica delighted the local fans who have been somewhat starved of a local golfing idol when he recorded a 67 to finish alone in 5th.
The best of the Australasians was Adam Groom who finished 10th to follow a 20th place last week in Shanghai. New South Welshman Groom, who narrowly missed his European Tour card last year when finishing one shot out of those who secured cards for 2005, is taking advantage of whatever starts come his way with his partially exempt status. Groom was a member of the Australian Eisenhower Team in 2002, a year in which he beat Tiger Woods home when fifth at the New Zealand Open as an amateur. He finished 2nd in one of his very first events as a professional at the 2002 NSW Open at Horizons Resort but it is only now that he is beginning to realise the significant potential he possesses. He played with some success in Asia in 2004 including a 5th place at the BMW Asian Open. Groom is entered for next week’s Dunlop Masters and should gain a start because of his top ten here.
New Zealander Gareth Paddison also enjoyed one of his best weeks on the European tour when 14th to follow his good week at the Johnnie Walker Classic when 23rd. Outside of his 7th place at the Heineken last year and his runner up placing at the Australian PGA at his very first start as a professional this will be Paddison’s biggest cheque.
The European Tour finally reached Britain for the first time in 2005 when the Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters is played this coming week at the Forest of Arden.