Hedblom Ends 11-Year Wait in Malaysia

Sun 11 Feb 2007

Hedblom Ends 11-Year Wait in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, February 11: Eleven years of waiting ended for Sweden's Peter Hedblom when he claimed a thrilling one-stroke victory at the Maybank Malaysian Open on Sunday.

The Swede prevailed in the heat of battle at Saujana Golf and Country Club, shooting a final round of four-under-par 68 for an eight-under-par 280 total and edged out Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin, who signed off with the day's best of 67.

Spaniard Ignacio Garrido and England's Simon Dyson shared third place, a further stroke behind in the US$1.29 million Championship co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Asia's best performers were Thai duo Prom Meesawat and teenager Chinarat Phadungsil, signing off with rounds of 73 and 70 respectively for a share of seventh place on 284.


Hedblom, whose lone victory on the European Tour was at the 1996 Moroccan Open, overcame an overnight three shot deficit with a clinical display of golf which yielded six birdies against two dropped shots. But he needed to survive a shaky finish at the last hole which he bogeyed by three putting before sealing a long-awaited second victory.

"Unbelievable," said Hedblom, who won US$215,000. "I've been shaking. It's almost 11 years now and to win again, I've worked so hard to get back and try to win a tournament and now I've won it. It's unbelievable.

"When you haven't won for that long, you question whether you can win again."

The battle for the Maybank Malaysian Open crown was a touch-and-go affair. At one stage, five players tied for the lead on yet another steamy day at Saujana's Palm course and with seven other players within two shots off the pace.

Hedblom pulled clear of the pack with birdies on the 13th, 16th and 17th holes but caught a tricky lie with his second shot on the 18th which ended on the edge of a bunker. But the Swede recovered with an exquisite chip onto the green and took three putts to hole out, making Lucquin pay for his costly three putt bogey on the same hole.

"When I walked off 17, people were congratulating me for winning the tournament! I was focussed on making four or five (at the last) but had the worst lie for my third. It wasn't in the trap and it wasn't out of the trap.

"If I hit it fat, I would still be in the bunker, if I hit it thin it would be over the green. But I hit a great shot to get it to where it was. After that, I was shaking. I couldn't even put my club down on that putt. Hopefully I can win a lot more this year," said the 37-year-old Swede, who had his family with him to savour his moment of glory.

Lucquin pushed hard for a maiden victory and grabbed the sole lead on eight-under for the tournament after a birdie on 17. However, the Frenchman succumbed on the 18th green with a three-putt bogey from 30 feet, which gave Hedblom the luxury of a two-shot cushion playing the last.

"It was a very good round but the course is very difficult. The first putt (on 18) was very quick, the second putt was a good putt but that's golf. Maybe a five at the last would have given me a win. But things were not enough today," said Lucquin.

Prom, third on last year's Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit, was disappointed that he didn't challenge for the title. He struggled with his distance control all day, dropping three bogeys against two birdies. The burly Thai said: "I hit it good but my second shot wasn't good. Because of the undulation on the course, I had trouble with the distances today.

"I putted nicely but the ball just didn't want to go in. I couldn't get the speed right on the greens. I'm still happy with a top-10 but I know I should have done better than that."

Dyson was amongst those tied for the lead at one stage of the final round but dumped his approach into water at the par five 13th for bogey for the second straight day to dent his hopes. "I played great but no disrespect to Pete, I like Pete, but I should have this by about 10 or 12," said Dyson, who will defend next week's Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open title.

"13 summed it up. I hit a long drive and had only a five iron in my hand. I had a downhill lie and the worst lie that I've ever seen. If I knock in on and two putt, you're in the lead. It was just one of those. If I play like that for the rest of my life, I would be a very happy, happy man."

Overnight co-leaders Marcus Higley of England closed with a 74 to finish equal fifth on 283 while Argentinean Ricardo Gonzalez slipped to 11th place after a disappointing 76. Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke shot a second straight 71 to finish tied 27th while Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood of England carded a 74 for 42nd place.

Leading final round scores

280 - Peter Hedblom (SWE) 73-71-68-68

281 - Jean-Francois Lucquin (FRA) 72-68-74-67

282 - Ignacio Garrido (ESP) 76-69-68-69, Simon Dyson (ENG) 71-68-73-70

283 - Gary Lockerbie (ENG) 72-71-70-70, Marcus Higley (ENG) 72-67-70-74

284 - Chinarat Phadungsil (THA) 70-67-77-70, Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 69-70-74-71, Simon Yates (SCO) 73-69-70-72, Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-69-70-73

285 - Amandeep Johl (IND) 73-71-71-70, Graeme Storm (ENG) 72-72-69-72, David Bransdon (AUS) 70-72-70-73, Ricardo Gonzalez (ARG) 69-71-69-76, Angelo Que (PHI) 70-73-68-74

286 - Keith Horne (RSA) 73-73-71-69, David Drysdale (SCO) 73-73-70-70, Gerald Rosales (PHI) 70-75-70-71, S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 67-77-71-71, Gavin Flint (AUS) 71-71-72-72, Andrew Coltart (SCO) 74-69-70-73, Damien Mcgrane (IRL) 70-73-70-73

287 - Alessandro Tadini (ITA) 70-72-74-71, Sam Walker (ENG) 72-71-72-72, Frankie Minoza (PHI) 72-70-71-74, Robert-Jan Derksen (NLD) 70-73-70-74

288 - Simon Wakefield (ENG) 71-74-75-68, Garry Houston (WAL) 75-70-74-69, Christian Cevaer (FRA) 75-68-76-69, Darren Clarke (NIR) 74-72-71-71, Gary Simpson (AUS) 71-72-73-72, Stephen Gallacher (SCO) 71-73-72-72, Andrew Marshall (ENG) 75-69-71-73