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Stephen Dodd claims maiden win at China Open

Briton Stephen Dodd claimed his maiden professional victory when he held off a determined Thomas Bjorn of Denmark to lift the US$1 million Volvo China Open today.

The 38-year-old Welshman beat Bjorn by three strokes after a final round of four-under-par 68 gave him a winning total of 12-under-par 276 in the US$1 million championship, jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Bjorn's recent revival fell short at Shanghai Silport Golf Club as he settled for his second runner-up finish in two months following a 68. Thai duo Chawalit Plaphol and Thaworn Wiratchant shared third place after shooting 66 and 68 respectively, tying for third spot with Australian Jason Dawes who scored a hole-in-one on the eighth en route to a 66 in the 10th Volvo China Open.

Despite his first triumph, Dodd was lost for words in describing his career breakthrough. "All I wanted to do was to go out and do my very best and that's what I did. Sometimes it's not in your own hands. Sometimes, the other person plays really well and you can't do much about it. But fortunately, it was my turn to play well," said Dodd, who won US$166,660.

"I really can't put it to words, to be honest, I'm just delighted that I won. My emotions at the moment? I really don't know what to say. Maybe you can ask me that tomorrow," added Dodd.

Dodd and Bjorn turned in 35 before the Welshman, who held an overnight three shot edge, surged ahead to a four-stroke lead after birdies on 10, 11 and 13. Bjorn had birdies on 10, 12 and 15 and trailed by only two after Dodd dropped a bogey on 17 with a three putt.

However, the quiet man from Cardiff split the fairway on the par five 18th hole with a mighty drive and after finding the green in two with another excellent shot, he broke into a smile. Two putts and a birdie later, he soon hoisted the new Waterford Crystal trophy commissioned for the 10th year celebration of China 's national Open. He was also given a golden Chinese traditional jacket. "It's a bit tight, I need to loose some weight," said Dodd.

Bjorn tipped his cap to the victor as he continued his revival from a recent dip in confidence. "There was not much I could do, he played really well. From the sixth through 13th, I can't play any better. He made birdies I didn't hole. Then I made that charge and I can't play much better than I did in those stretch of holes, and that's where you need to turn the tournament around and Stephen did all the right things.

"I said yesterday if I shot 67 I could win the tournament but I wouldn't have come close. I needed to shoot a 65 to match him and on this golf course, it's a lot. You just have to take your hat off to him. Here's a win for the good guy and Stephen is definitely one of the good guys."

Bjorn needed a stroke of good luck to reel in the leader but his chip on 13th hit the flag and he subsequently missed the birdie putt. The Dane could only rue his missed opportunity as Dodd drained his birdie attempt on the same hole which gave him back a four-shot edge.

"I nearly holed it for two (on the 13th) and walk off with a four, that's golf. Sometimes they go for you, sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately, it's another second place for me. You've got to take some good from that. You want to win golf tournaments but when you come up with a guy who plays as well as Stephen did, you just say well done," said the big Dane.

Thaworn, runner-up here last year, nearly quit the second round when temperatures were bordering freezing cold on Friday. But he was certainly pleased that he hung around for the weekend, shooting a blemish free card that had four birdies.

"I like this 68. No bogeys on this course is very good as it's a tough layout. I didn't drive the ball well but my putter worked very nicely. I holed some nice birdies and made some par saves as well. It is nice to see Chawalit finishing on six-under as well. It looks good for Thai golf and also the Asian Tour. It is a shame that an Asian player couldn't win this week but conditions did favour the Europeans," said Thaworn, who needed to wear four layers of clothes during his final round.

Australian Dawes, winner of last season's Taiwan Open, shot the tournament's only hole in one at the eighth hole with a six iron. It was the 12th ace of the season on the Asian Tour and will go down into the record books as the first of the new 2005 European Tour International Schedule.

India 's Amandeep Johl and England 's Steve Webster shared sixth place on 283.

276 Stephen Dodd 68 70 70 68 (£89,602)

279 Thomas Bjorn (Den) 71 72 68 68 (£59,736)

282 Jason Dawes (Aus) 68 74 74 66, Chawalit Plaphol (Tha) 75 69 72 66, Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 71 74 69 68

283 Steve Webster 70 75 70 68, Amandeep Johl (Ind) 68 76 70 69

284 Jonathan Lomas 72 71 72 69, Barry Lane 68 75 70 71, Soren Hansen (Den) 70 71 70 73

285 Joon Chung (Kor) 69 72 72 72, Mark Foster 70 72 71 72, Simon Yates 70 73 70 72, Gregory Havret (Fra) 71 75 67 72

286 Liang Wen-chong (Chn) 72 74 73 67, Anthony Wall 73 72 71 70, Bradley Dredge 67 75 70 74

287 Peter Lawrie 72 78 70 67, David Park 73 77 70 67, Damien McGrane 71 74 73 69, Mads Vibe-Hastrup (Den) 69 77 68 73

288 Chris Williams 72 72 73 71, Paul Broadhurst 73 73 71 71

289 Andrew Pitts (USA) 69 77 74 69, James Kingston (Rsa) 69 78 70 72

290 Edward Michaels (USA) 72 72 74 72, Philip Golding 71 75 70 74

291 Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 72 78 73 68, Zhang Lian-wei (Chn) 69 76 74 72, Wang Ter-chang (Tai) 72 74 73 72, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) 70 76 73 72, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 74 75 70 72, Matthew King 68 73 77 73, Rick Gibson (Can) 70 79 68 74

292 Anthony Kang (Kor) 72 76 73 71, Terry Pilkadaris (Aus) 75 72 72 73

293 Graeme Storm 78 72 76 67, Pablo Del Olmo (Mex) 72 76 73 72

294 Hendrik Buhrmann (Rsa) 71 79 73 71, Simon Dyson 72 78 72 72, Stephen Scahill (Nzl) 72 75 74 73, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 72 75 74 73, Marc Cayeux (Zim) 68 75 77 74, Fredrik Andersson (Swe) 71 75 74 74, Unho Park (Aus) 67 80 70 77, Kwang-soo Choi (Kor) 75 72 70 77, Gary Rusnak (USA) 73 75 69 77

295 Scott Barr (Aus) 73 78 74 70, Miguel Angel Martin (Spa) 75 74 74 72, Paul Lawrie 71 78 73 73, Robert Karlsson (Swe) 74 75 73 73, Nick Dougherty 72 79 69 75, Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 71 76 72 76

296 Pat Giles (Aus) 75 74 74 73, Gregory Hanrahan (USA) 73 71 77 75, Andrew Marshall 73 75 72 76

297 Robert-Jan Derksen (Ned) 72 78 78 69, Des Terblanche (Rsa) 72 77 77 71, Mardan Mamat (Sing) 71 80 74 72, Raymond Russell 70 80 71 76, Robert Coles 71 76 73 77

298 Thammanoon Srirot (Tha) 72 77 77 72, (x) Henry Liaw (USA) 73 77 74 74

300 Arjun Singh (Ind) 73 77 78 72, Shang Lei (Chn) 71 79 74 76, Emanuele Canonica (Ita) 76 70 74 80

301 Jamie Donaldson 73 78 75 75, Johan Axgren (Swe) 76 75 73 77

302 Harmeet Kahlon (Ind) 74 77 76 75, Danny Chia (Mal) 72 79 75 76

303 Nobuhito Sato (Jpn) 75 76 78 74, Huang Ming Jie (Chn) 73 77 76 77

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