David Howell holds on to claim victory
Britain's David Howell ended a six-year wait for his second European Tour title with victory in the BMW International Open on Sunday.
A closing seven-under-par 65 for a 23-under-par 265 total, left him a stroke better than double major winner and former Munich champion John Daly and Australia's Brett Rumford.
Howell began the final round a stroke behind fellow Briton Luke Donald and held his nerve after an early bogey to accumulate eight birdies as Donald, his playing partner, floundered.
Daly, the 2001 winner, became the chief threat but the American, who signed for a 64, squandered a chance of putting on more pressure by missing a six-foot birdie putt on the last that could have left Howell needing to pick up a shot on the last hole to win.
Knowing his target and playing safe, a par on the 18th was good enough for Howell to go one better than his two playoff defeats this year and add to his 1999 Dubai Desert Classic title.
Crucial putts proved the key to Howell's win. A 45-footer on 10th put him in front for the first time, a 30-footer on 14 kept Daly and Rumford at bay, a save on 16 did a complete circuit of the cup before dropping, but it was a final two-footer to clinch the 400,000 dollars first prize, that Howell valued most.
"I just told myself I was the best putter in the world and went for it," he said.
That rounded off a fine three weeks since coming back from tearing abdominal muscles that sidelined him for two months and Howell was relieved to finally end his winning drought, having finished second seven times since his 1999 success.
"I've become very, very consistent in Europe but I had a very bare trophy cabinet, so it's nice I've finally got a bit of silverware to put in it," said Howell, part of Europe's triumphant 2004 Ryder Cup team at Oakland Hills.
"The next 10 years of my life are going to be the best 10 years and this has made look forward to bigger and better things."
Daly, who was 27-under when he won in 2001 at the same Nord Eichenried course, was disappointed with his finish but happy that he got into contention at the weekend.
"I misread the putt at the end," Daly said "But after not firing on Thursday and Friday my weekend has been phenomenal, a bit like four years ago."
Howell's victory ended any doubts whether he would qualify for one of the two places left for the World Matchplay Championship in mid-September.
"I was looking good for the matchplay until I had my injury, so I'm delighted I've made it," Howell added.
Howell and Paul McGinley were the qualifiers, giving themselves extra opportunities to make a rich haul of Ryder Cup points for Europe's campaign that begins next week.
Swede Niclas Fasth, who finished in a tie for fourth place, two strokes back, with Dane Soren Kjeldsen, pushed McGinley all the way, though.
Fasth ruled himself out of a playoff and ruined his matchplay chances by three-putting the last after over-running an eagle attempt.
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