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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > European Tour > Celtic Manor Wales Open > Round 4


Robert Karlsson gains three stroke victory

Robert Karlsson wrapped up the Wales Open on Sunday, although a stumbling performance in the final round prevented the Swede from breaking the 72-hole European Tour record.

Karlsson had broken the 36 and 54-hole records as he marched to a six-shot lead going into the final day.

But his closing two-over-par 71 for a 16-under-par 260 aggregate, three strokes better than Briton Paul Broadhurst, was two shots worse than the record four-round total.

Even with his less than convincing finale, Karlsson had plenty to be happy about in a $464,000 victory, his sixth on the European Tour.

It was his first success in nearly four years and his 364,352 points for winning, hauled him into ninth place on Europe's Ryder Cup table from which 10 qualify automatically in September.

The 36-year-old Swede never looked like throwing all his advantage away but six bogeys, two to finish, littered his card and he had to rely on a run of three birdies in four holes from the 13th to see him home.

His main weakness in the final round was his putting. He three-putted four times.

Karlsson said his lengthy leads over the second and third rounds had finally told on him.

"It has been a great week, but a hard week, being so much in front each day," he said. "It's easy to get in front of yourself. But I just missed too many putts today."

Karlsson was overlooked for a Ryder Cup place in 1999, when European captain Mark James preferred Andrew Coltart even though Karlsson had finished one place higher than the Briton in 11th place, just one spot from automatic qualification.

That affected his outlook and he admitted on Sunday that a few years after that he toyed with the idea of giving up the game.

Even though he is back in the reckoning for a Cup place, Karlsson is determined not to let it rule him.

"For a little while '99 did play on my mind and it was because of that I nearly decided to give up the game," he said.

"But if I get in this time it definitely happens as a by-product. It is more important to have total belief in my ability."

Karlsson has an immediate chance to test that ability further as he moves straight on to U.S. Open international final qualifying on Monday at Walton Heath, England.

Broadhurst birdied the last for a 68 to claim second place on his own and the Briton's 242,891 points consolidated his eighth place in the Ryder Cup standings, enhancing his chances of a return to Europe's team after a 15-year absence.

Portugal's Jose-Filipe Lima finished a further stroke behind after a joint-best round of the day 64.

Eight-times European number one Colin Montgomerie ended the worst spell of his career with a 67 which earned him fourth place, five strokes behind Karlsson.



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