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Belgacom Open
Royal Zoute
Knokke-Le-Zoute, Belgium
1st - 4th October 1998

Par 71 Prize Money 400,000

Final Round Report

Westwood wins play-off and sets up showdown with Montgomerie


Knokke Le Zoute, Belgium, 4th October 1998 -  England's Lee Westwood set up a dramatic showdown with Colin Montgomerie in this year's European rankings battle with a sudden-death playoff victory in the Belgian Open on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Englishman was taken to an extra hole by determined Swede Fredrik Jacobson but captured the 66,660 ($113,900) first prize by sinking a 25-foot birdie putt.

That took him to within 45,266 ($77,350) of Order of Merit leader Montgomerie with just the Volvo Masters, where there is a 166,660 ($284,700) first prize, in Spain to come at the end of the month.

Montgomerie, who is seeking to head the rankings list for a sixth successive year, did not play in Belgium.

Westwood and Jacobson had finished on 16-under-par 268, Westwood coming from a stroke back with a five-under-par 66 to Jacobson's 67.

They were two better than another Swede, Robert Karlsson, and New Zealand's Greg Turner, who led the third round with Jacobson.

Westwood produced the shot of the week to take over the lead on his own directly after the turn, having started one behind Jacobson and Turner.

His full wedge shot from 130 yards out at the 10th bounced five feet past the flag from where it screwed back into the hole for an eagle two.

But Westwood undid the good work with a glaring miss from 15 inches for birdie on the next hole which cost him outright victory.

The Swede and Turner had been caught immediately by Westwood when the Briton birdied the first but Jacobson was not fazed and birdies on the fourth and seventh holes saw him regain the lead.

When he birdied the long 15th he stayed only one shot behind as Turner faded out of the winning picture with a bogey there.

Then when Jacobson rammed in a 20-footer to birdie the long 17th, it set up sudden-death.

Jacobson hit the 18th green at the first playoff hole five feet nearer than his opponent but did not have the same deadly eye as Westwood chalked up his fourth European win of the year to go with one on the U.S. Tour.

"If somebody had offered me five wins at the start of the year I'd have taken their hand off," said a delighted Westwood.

"I came here with the intention of winning so that I can go to the Volvo Masters knowing that if I defend my title there then whatever Monty does can't have any effect on me.

"My game is the best it's been tee-to-green of my career so I was confident I could win today. Fredrik made it hard for me and it was a great performance from him when he came here knowing he needed a result just to keep his card.

"It doesn't pay to be overconfident but my target was 66 and I made it. Obviously the 10th was a key hole but I think that was justice because a lot of good putts didn't go in."

Westwood represents England in the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews next week and then plays his first World Matchplay at Wentworth.

The young Englishman's success ended a lengthy lull since his last win at Loch Lomond just before the British Open.

"I just needed motivation," added Westwood, "and I gave myself a good kick up the backside because I was feeling sorry for myself just because I'd gone into a lull.

"It happens in golf and I won't get down on myself like that again."

England's Nick Faldo earned 3,430 Ryder Cup points after finishing 30th on 278 with a 69 and admitted his game was still not completely back in shape.

"It's encouraging that I made more chances and the long game's coming along, " said the six-times major champion. "My game is frustratingly close."

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