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TNT Dutch Open
Hilversumsche Golf Club
Hilversum, Amsterdam
23rd - 26th July 1998

Par 71 Prize Money 800,000

Final Round Report

Leaney hangs on for second title in rookie year

Hilversum, Netherlands, 26th July 1998 - Australia's Stephen Leaney faced a severe test from Britain's Ryder Cup player Darren Clarke before winning the Dutch Open at Hilversum on Sunday to earn his second European Tour title in his rookie year.

Leaney, 29, began the final round two strokes ahead of the field, but expected to be threatened by his playing-partner, current European number one Lee Westwood or triple major champion Nick Price.

Instead it was Clarke who provided the danger as the Northern Ireland man made a blazing start and went on to equal the course record before being squeezed out by just a stroke.

A four-under-par 67 was just good enough for Leaney to follow up his Moroccan Open success earlier in the year as he totalled 18-under-par 266.

Clarke's 63, with an eagle and two birdies over his opening four holes, was just one stroke short and that came with a three-putt bogey on the 10th which was to deny him at least a playoff.

A 133,330 first prize vaulted Leaney up to eighth place on the European rankings in his first year on tour.

Westwood's consolation came from extending his lead on top of the European rankings over five-times number one Colin Montgomerie as he, too, carded 67 for 268.

Price shot 66 to share third place, with Italy's Costantino Rocca claiming fifth place on 270 after a 65.

Winner Leaney's career was threatened five years ago when he needed a serious rib operation to remove pressure on his shoulder bone, but the young Australian is becoming a force in Europe now he is fit.

He won his first title in Agadir by eight strokes, the highest winning margin in Europe this year, and this time proved he can battle under pressure after being tested severely by Clarke.

Although the Irishman stayed on his shoulder, Leaney was always able to keep at least a one stroke distance.

"I knew what I had to do and kept my mind on the job." said Leaney. "Now I hope I can go on to greater things."

But the death of fellow pro Stuart Appleby's wife in a car accident in London last Thursday put the victory in perspective for the golfer.

"My very close friend Stuart Appleby lost his wife last week and I was thinking about it all through the weekend," he said. "If I'd lost it just wouldn't have been a big deal."

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Final Round Scores

Third Round

Second Round

First Round

Prize Money

Card of the Course