Late birdies seal win for Mikael Lundberg
Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg birdied two of his last three holes to clinch the Russian Open on Sunday for his second European Tour title.
The 34-year-old, who won his maiden tour title at the Moscow Country Club three years ago in a sudden-death playoff on the fourth extra hole, shot a four-under-par 68 in the final round to finish on 21-under 267, beating Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara by two strokes.
“This victory means so much to me. We are halfway through the season now and I felt like the most important thing for me was to keep my card for next season,” Lundberg, who spent last year on the Challenge Tour, told a news conference.
“The first one was great because it was my first victory but this one means even more because the money is a lot more and I get a two year exemption instead of one. It feels amazing,” he said after collecting 210,237 euros ($330,000) compared to the 67,599 euros ($106,100) he won in 2005.
Lundberg, who was tied with Lara on 19-under with three holes to play, made a 27-feet birdie putt on the par-three 16th to charge ahead, then birdied the par-five 17th to move two up on the Spaniard.
Britain’s Benn Barham finished third, another stroke back after carding a 68 on Sunday.
Lara, who trailed Lundberg by six strokes after three rounds, was on fire on Sunday, making eight birdies on his first 14 holes to catch up with the Swede.
But a bogey on the par-five 15th threw the Spaniard off and not even another birdie on 17 could make a difference.
Lundberd, who described the course in Nakhabino, about 15 km north-west of Moscow, as “just for me,” said he was lucky to make a par on the 15th after hitting his tee shot into the trees.
“I was in real trouble on the 15th when I hit a very bad drive to the left,” he said.
“I couldn’t even get the ball out of the trees with the first shot and on the second try I had to take a big risk to hit it out. Luckily it was a good week for me and I made a par, I just don’t know how,” he added.
Norway’s Jan-Are Larsen was fourth on 271, a stroke ahead of 2006 runner-up David Drysdale of Scotland, who along with Lara had the best score for the final round, a 64.
Britain’s Jamie Moul, who started the final round in second place, one stroke behind Lundberg, could not sustain his momentum on Sunday. The 23-year-old former amateur world number one made three bogeys on the back nine to finish tied for sixth, six strokes back.