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Rookies stand out for Europeans at Masters

Rookie Britons Luke Donald and David Howell were more than satisfied after making an immediate impact on their U.S. Masters debuts to finish as the top two Europeans.

Donald underlined his burgeoning reputation by finishing on five-under-par and sharing third place with U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.

Tiger Woods took his fourth Masters title in a playoff with Chris DiMarco after they had closed on 12-under.

Englishman Howell ended up in 11th place after sharing the lead with Donald for a time with in the second round.

Donald slipped back with a 77 in that second round but the 27-year-old followed up with two 69s to surge up the leaderboard.

"You can always say 'what if?' but had someone given me three rounds in the sixties on my debut, I'd have taken it," said Donald, who picked up $406,000 for his blazing finish.

He now lies 13th in the world rankings, a climb of three places, and has consolidated sixth place on the U.S. money-list with earnings of $1,766,427.

Donald said he had not found his Masters debut particularly stressful.

"The Ryder Cup was much more nerve-wracking," he said.

Howell was also part of the triumphant European Ryder Cup team that trounced the United States at Oakland Hills last September and has now finally made his mark individually in America.

The 29-year-old said he had struggled to handle the pressure of playing with Woods over Saturday and Sunday in the weather-affected third round, shooting a 76.

However, he came back with a 69 to secure an automatic spot in the event next year despite losing a ball at the 11th.

"It's a really big step for me and gives me confidence for my next major," he said.

"I'm very pleased with my best finish in America, my best finish in a major, I'm back here next year. I feel like I've had a few years' experience in one week."

While there was pleasure for Howell and Donald, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn suffered an 81 in the final round and slumped to joint 25th, having started in third place only a shot adrift of runner-up DiMarco.

 

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