Dodd further elevates status on European Tour
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2005 Nissan Irish Open | Wrap | 23 May 2005
After years as low ranked player on the European Tour, Welshman Stephen Dodd has emerged in 2005 as a golfer likely to contend in anything he tees it up.
Today at the Nissan Irish Open, Dodd recorded his second win of the 2005 season (the first was at the Volvo China Open in December) and along with three other top tens, including his runner up to Els in Dubai, he has taken the European Tour by storm. His win today has seen him move to fourth place on the 2005 Volvo Order of Merit and has elevated his status both in terms of the money list and perception.
A relatively late graduate to the professional ranks at the age of twenty five, Dodd has been a slow developer. A look back to his previous seasons however highlights just how quickly he has progressed in 2005. In 165 career starts to the end of 2004 on the European Tour, there had been just one second and one third placing, both of those coming in 2001 and just ten other top tens. To say the least it had been a lean time in professional golf to that point.
The former British Amateur Champion has been a member of the European Tour since 1995 but it hasn’t been an easy road as he has struggled from Challenge Tour to main tour and back again. Turning professional in 1991 he first gained access to the main tour in 1995 via the tour school. In that season of 2001 mentioned earlier he recorded a third placing at the Maidera Island Open and then at the North West of Ireland Open where he was runner up to Tobias Dier.
Now with all that far behind him, Dodd took to this tough Carton House layout on day four as if he had been in this situation on many occasions. His last round of 68 was amongst the best of the day and bettered only by Nick O’Hern’s 66 and Steve O’Hara’s 67. Only a minor hiccup at the fifth provided a speed bump to a roll that continued until the 17th where a bogey threatened his chance of winning. Fortunately Dodd recovered to birdie the last and at that stage had the lead outright.
David Howell, who just last week lost a three way playoff to Thomas Bjorn, had one hole to play and needed a birdie to tie. He did just that although he needed a 15 footer to do so.
In the playoff, Howell found trouble from the tee while Dodd reached the green in two at the par five 18th. When Dodd ran his first putt to two feet it was all but over and Dodd made sure with his birdie to take the title.
For Howell it was yet another disappointment. Since his lone win in Dubai in 1999 he has now been a runner-up six times but the disappointment of that statistic is perhaps compensated for to some extent by the fact that he is in such great form at present. Surely a win is close at hand.
Angel Cabrera, who has a tendency to play well on the tough golf courses, rattled home for third, joining overnight leader Nick Dougherty. Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Nick O’Hern shared fourth with O’Hern’s last round of 66 the best round of the week on the Colin Montgomerie designed monster.
It was a faultless display from O’Hern who appears headed for yet another fine season on the European Tour. After beating Tiger Woods at the Accenture, O’Hern made a more than satisfactory debut at Augusta and was then 9th in Peter Lonard’s MCI Heritage Classic.
Other Australians to finish the event were Terry Price 22nd, Richard Green 28th, Peter O’Malley 43rd and defending champion Brett Rumford 49th. Rumford received some consolation when winning a tournament within a tournament for the last five holes in the Red Bull Final 5 contest. The prize for that is 10,000 miles worth of corporate jet travel.
The European tour now heads to the BMW Championship at Wentworth which is essentially replacing the British PGA Championship although in name only. The event is worth €4 million or A$6.6 million.