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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > European Tour > Madeira Island Open > Round 4


Jean Van de Velde ends 13 year victory drought

Jean Van de Velde overcame a double bogey six at the last hole to end a 13-year wait for his second European Tour title by winning the Madeira Island Open on Sunday.

The 39-year-old Frenchman, who took an infamous triple bogey at the last to scupper his victory chances in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie, was four strokes clear on the 72nd tee at Santo da Serra.

Van de Velde's late stumble meant he closed with a four-under-par 68 for a 15-under total of 273, one ahead of Briton Lee Slattery (66) who birdied the last.

Spain's Pedro Linhart (68), the 1999 winner, finished third on 275 with Briton Simon Wakefield fourth, one shot further adrift.

Beginning the final round two ahead, Van de Velde blitzed his way to six birdies on the front nine to charge five clear.

He picked up two more birdies on the inward half before launching a wayward drive at the 18th and finding a grassy hollow with his second shot.

Van de Velde then fluffed his pitch short of the green before hitting 15-feet past the hole.

Two putts to finish were enough for the Frenchman, who said he always felt he had enough in hand.

"I was comfortable at the last and I just had to walk back up the hill but I made the walk interesting," Van de Velde told reporters.

"I found the nastiest patch of grass on the whole course and I was lucky to get it forward. But if I can't take three from 10 yards off the green, there are going to be some questions asked.

"I knew a six was going to win it. I wasn't nervous.

"What happened many years ago (at Carnoustie) was a freaky circumstance."

The former Ryder Cup player feared he might not compete again after injuring his knee while skiing.

Van de Velde needed an operation in 2003 during a three-year period in which he played only a handful of events.

He regained his tour card after finishing second at the 2005 French Open.

The experienced Frenchman, who won the Rome Masters 13 years ago, picked up a first prize of $142,000 on Sunday and earned a further two-year tour exemption.

"Last year I was blessed to get my card back and this year I'm blessed to have it for another two years," said Van de Velde.

"It gives me a lot of oxygen to breathe and I can now take weeks off if my knee gives me too much trouble."

Slattery, winner of the Challenge Tour money-list in 2004 and without a full tour card this year, came back from two early bogeys to claim eight birdies in 11 holes.



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