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Michael Campbell positive despite late slips

Michael Campbell gleaned many positives despite letting victory slip through his fingers in the British Masters.

The New Zealander took a three-shot lead heading into the final round at the Forest of Arden course in England, but failed to make a three-way playoff by one shot.

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn defeated the England duo of David Howell and Brian Davis to claim his first victory in 27 months after paring the second extra hole.

The trio had finished on six-under 282, a stroke better than Campbell, who pocketed £125,324 ($330,000).

Davis was eliminated at the first sudden-death hole, the short 18th, when he bogeyed to Bjorn and Howell's pars.

Campbell was seeking his first win on the European PGA Tour since victory at the 2003 Irish Open, but his latest effort follows a string of top finishes after he shared third place in last month's Johnnie Walker Classic.

"I am going to the Irish Open [starting on Thursday] with a very positive attitude even though today's result was a little disappointing having come so close," Campbell said.

"These last three results have been a great confidence-booster and will be put in good stead for a number of big events coming up, including next fortnight's BMW Championship at Wentworth, where I finished runner-up at my first appearance.

"So I have a lot of good things to take from this event. It would have been nice to be taking home the trophy but then there is always next week, and next week is the Irish Open and I know how to win that event."

After a scorching third-round 67, which included birdies on his closing four holes, Campbell had put himself into a winning position.

But the birdies dried up at the start to his final round. The 36-year old had to wait to the eighth hole before his first birdie.

Campbell looked set for victory when he went to seven-under at the turn and two clear of his nearest rival. But a double-bogey at the par-four 13th sent him crashing back into a then four-way share of the lead on five under.

Bjorn moved to six-under when he eagled the 17th, moments before Howell burst clear to seven-under when he chipped in from just off the green at the same hole.

Howell needed only a par at the par-three last to seal his first win since March 1999, but he bunkered his tee shot and then needed three more shots to get down.

Campbell, still at five-under playing the last, knew he needed to birdie the 18th to join Bjorn and the two Englishmen in the play-off.

But he also found a greenside bunker, from where he splashed out before holing a near-6m putt to wrap up fourth spot on his own.

"Today was a bit of a downer as the tournament was there for the taking," said Campbell, who had a wretched start to the season when he missed the halfway cut in his opening five events.

 

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