Benson and Hedges International Open
Benson and Hedges International Open
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Olazabal joy after Harrington woe

Jose Maria Olazabal clinched his second Benson and Hedges International Open in 10 years when he took advantage of Padraig Harrington's disqualification to win by three strokes on Sunday.

The Irishman would have taken a five-stroke lead into the final round but was disqualified before hitting a ball when it was discovered he had not signed his card after the first round.

That left the way clear for the Spaniard who fought off a stern challenge by Britain's Phil Price to take the 254,000 pounds ($385,500) first prize.

The two had shared second place behind Harrington after the third round but Olazabal's 66, his second successive six-under-par return, left him on a 13-under-par 275 for the tournament, three better than Welshman Price, who carded 69.

An eagle on the 17th by Olazabal finally closed the door on Price, giving the double-Masters champion a two-stroke lead to take to the 18th, where a bogey by the Welshman increased the winning margin.

Olazabal's first victory since his 1999 Masters success and his first on the European Tour since the 1998 Dubai Desert Classic, came after an opening 75.

The 34-year-old from San Sebastian took his 18th European Tour title in style with weekend 66s, but Price refused to be shaken off, staying with Olazabal until the Spaniard holed a 20ft birdie putt on the long 15th and ran in one from 12ft on the 17th for eagle.

Price's missed drive on the last ended what had become a matchplay contest and he had to settle for his third runners-up spot of the year, finishing five shots better than Argentinian Jose Coceres and Scot Andrew Coltart in joint third place.

Harrington's disqualification put a different complex on the final round.

"It was a big shock when Andy (McFee, senior referee) came and told us the news on the driving range," said Olazabal.

"I couldn't believe it. Here we were on the fourth day. I just don't know why they didn't notice it before.

"Obviously my approach to the day was completely different because now it's Phillip and I leading.

"At first I played aggressively but then I told myself just to play good golf and see what happens.

"It became almost matchplay at the turn because we both knew it was going to be between us and no-one else.

"I holed a good putt to stay one ahead on the 16th but the 17th was very crucial, especially with the 18th to come.

"It gave me a two-shot gap and I knew I then needed just a good tee shot and I could win."

Tee shots have been Olazabal's Achilles heel for many years, but the double-major champion has worked hard with the driver over the past 18 months and reaped dividends.

"I drove the ball very well for all four days and that gave me great pleasure," he added.

"Hopefully that will increase my confidence with the driver now."

Four players shared fifth place on 287, 19-year-old amateur Adam Scott, following up his sixth place in the Moroccan Open, European number one Colin Montgomerie, his fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher and England's Anthony Wall.

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