heineken classic
heineken classic
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January 28- 31, 1999

Defending Champion:
Thomas Bjorn
Purse:
$1,500,000
Host course:
The Vines Resort
Where:
Perth, Australia

 

Injury woe for Sam Torrance

Old timers providing a sideshow

Els seeking win to challenge Duval and Woods

BJÍRN DEFENDS TITLE AT THE VINES

Denmark's Thomas Bj÷rn defends his Heineken Classic title at the magnificent Vines Resort in Perth, Western Australia.

A year ago, the great Dane provided further evidence that he had matured into a world class player when he edged out a posse of players including Ian Woosnam, Ernie Els and JosÚ Maria Olazßbal to win his second European Tour event.

His winning total of 280, eight under par, secured the title by a solitary shot from 1996 champion Ian Woosnam. It was a quality performance by a quality golfer and Bj÷rn wasted little time in confirming that by capturing the Peugeot Open de Espa˝a two months later.

At the time, Bj÷rn admitted: "Winning my first European Tour event at Loch Lomond in 1996 was very important to my career. But to win for a second time is special. This will give my confidence a huge boost and I'm aiming for bigger things."

The powerful Dane is one of three of the winning 1997 European Ryder Cup side competing in the Heineken Classic, the third stop on the 1999 itinerary following two tournaments in South Africa.

Woosnam also has a special affinity with The Vines. Three years ago the former Masters champion opened the 1996 season with a flourish, beating Andrew Coltart in a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Classic on the opening week then completing back-to-back victories with a one-shot win in the Heineken Classic from Paul McGinley and Jean Van de Velde.

Twelve months later, Woosnam finished sixth behind Miguel Angel Martin, despite a closing 66, then pushed Bj÷rn all the way in 1998, missing out on his second Heineken Classic crown by a stroke after a closing 76.

Another former Masters winner, Bernhard Langer, joins South African Ernie Els, a four-shot winner of the Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship at Houghton Golf Club a fortnight ago, in the field.
Els was another player who tackled Bj÷rn for the 1998 title but a final 71 left him in a four-way tie for third place with Olazßbal, Peter Baker and Padraig Harrington, who established a new course record of 63 in 1997.

However the newly-wed Els, recently accorded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour in recognition of his two US Opens and three World Match Play titles, proved at Houghton that his close season break had not blunted his competitive edge.

Also playing in a highly competitive event in Perth are Ryder Cup men Baker, Sam Torrance, Joakim Haeggman, Steven Richardson, and Paul Broadhurst.

Coventry's Steve Webster, winner of the Amateur Medal in the 1995 Open at St.Andrews, plays just two weeks after collecting a share of third place behind Els in the Alfred Dunhill SA PGA.

The Vines Resort, nestled in superb bushland in the picturesque Swan Valley wine growing regions, has set a new standard in Western Australian resort complexes and real estate developments.

The resort has hosted top golf tournaments since its inception, starting with the Vines Classic in 1990, and now the internationally-acclaimed Heineken Classic.

Australia's Robert Allenby, winner of four European Tour titles, claimed the 'Heineken' in 1995 with a ten under par score of 278 at The Vines, where the final three holes are guaranteed to test ability and nerves to the full.


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