Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen won the last ever Volvo Masters at Valderrama by two shots from Martin Kaymer and Anthony Wall while Robert Karlsson became the first Swede to lift the European Tour Order of Merit title.
Kjeldsen fired a sensational opening round of 65 in testing conditions to take the first round lead. He clung obstinately to his advantage and ground his way to the finishing line. It was just his second European Tour victory in 309 starts.
During the final round it looked as though players would emerge from the pack to challenge the Dane. Sergio Garcia narrowed the gap after birdies at the 10th and 11th while Martin Kaymer made three birdies on the spin from the 11th to the 13th to briefly tie it up at the top. But, Kjeldsen responded magnificently with birdies of his own at the 11th and 12th to reach 10-under-par. After that the rest fell away and Kjeldsen had the luxury of being able to bogey the 16th and 17th and still cling on to a two-shot advantage coming down the last.
Despite finding the greenside bunker with his approach to the 72nd hole Kjeldsen kept his composure. Ignoring the rowdy galleries around the final green, he flopped it out of the sand to three feet and calmly rolled home the putt.
The win means a great deal to Kjeldsen. Not only is it his first tour title since 2003, but it also lifted him to 10th in the Order of Merit. That means he will be invited to next year’s WGC events, the US Open and the Open Championship.
“Winning isn’t easy.” Kjeldsen said. “A lot of things have to go right for you, and one win like this in a year, I’ll take that.”
Robert Karlsson finished the week down in 32nd place but, as Padraig Harrington finished 13th and Lee Westwood failed to secure the victory he needed to overtake Karlsson, the Swede held on to lift the Harry Vardon Trophy.
“In the last three and a half years I have taken myself to a new level and this is fantastic.” He said. “But this has been the hardest week I’ve ever experienced in golf. It’s one of those situations where you have it in your own hands, but not really, and your focus wanders quite a bit.”
There’ll be no time for Karlsson to reflect on and celebrate his fantastic 2008 season as the 2009 season gets underway this Thursday at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
1 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 65 71 69 71 276 €708,000
T2 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 73 70 67 68 278 €369,000
T2 Anthony Wall (Eng) 69 69 71 69 278 €369,000
T4 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 68 70 70 72 280 €196,000
T4 Lee Westwood (Eng) 70 68 70 72 280 €196,000
6 David Lynn (Eng) 69 73 70 69 281 €148,400
7 Richard Green (Aus) 73 70 72 67 282 €127,000
T8 Anders Hansen (Den) 74 69 69 71 283 €100,500
T8 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 72 70 74 67 283 €100,500
10 Peter Hedblom (Swe) 71 74 72 67 284 €85,000
Note: Players in bold signifies Titleist ball usage.