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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > European Tour > Smurfit Kappa European Open > Round 4


Stephen Dodd gains two shot victory

Welshman Stephen Dodd gave himself an early birthday present Sunday at the European Open.

Six days away from his 40th birthday, Dodd recorded the biggest solo win of his career at the K Club, capturing the European Open title by two strokes.

Dodd, who shared World Cup glory with Bradley Dredge last November, has now given himself a chance to return to the venue for September's Ryder Cup.

Dodd stood a lowly 47th on the Ryder Cup table coming into the week, but is now up to 16th with eight weeks left and all of them huge money events.

"I've not given that much thought," Dodd said. "I didn't have a lot of form coming here, but golf's golf and you don't know what's around the corner. The Ryder Cup's a long way off.

"There are a lot of tournaments to play and I suppose your form can go as quickly as it comes. Of course I'd like to play. It's everybody's dream to play in it."

With a closing round of 2-under 70, Dodd finished at 9-under-par 279, two shots clear of Jose Manuel Lara and Anthony Wall.

The 54-hole leader, Lara still led with seven holes to play but bogeyed the next three holes. Dodd took advantage of the opening and birdied the 16th and 17th. Dodd closed with a par and watched as Lara was unable to et closer than two shots en route to a 74.

Last year's Irish Open champion, Dodd dropped a six-footer at 16 and followed it up with a 50-foot bomb on the par-3 17th. Lara responded with birdies at the same two holes to get to 7-under. The Spaniard needed an eagle on the 578-yard 18th to tie, but he drove into sand and had to lay up short of the water.

Despite the huge win, Dodd had little celebrating planned and was more eager to get back to work than look ahead to his milestone birthday.

"Hopefully I'll be playing golf at Loch Lomond. Nothing else," Dodd said when asked of his birthday plans. The Scottish Open starts on Thursday.

Paul McGinley (69), Lee Westwood (70), Indian Jeev Milkha Singh (70), Simon Khan (73) and Graeme Storm (70) finished tied for third at 6-under 282.

Wall capped a closing 73 with a 35-foot birdie putt on 18. The putt not only earned him a share of second but also a place in the British Open in two weeks.

There was one spot available for the leading non-exempt player in the field and with Dodd already in, Wall took it ahead of Lara by virtue of having the better last day score, 73 to 74.

"I wasn't aware of what was at stake over that putt. I just wanted to make sure I didn't do anything stupid," Wall said. "It was an important putt for two reasons - from the money aspect and because I no longer need to worry about getting into the Open."



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