Date: June 04, 2007

Zions our best in Wales

Kiwi Michael Campbell and Australian Matthew Zions were Australasia&aposs best-placed players at the Wales Open, which was won by South African Richard Sterne after local hope Bradley Dredge&aposs nightmare finish to the tournament. Campbell and Zions, who started the day four shots off the pace, could not make an impact in the final round and finished in a tie for 29th place after both carding one-over-par 70s. Two weeks after losing the Irish Open in a play-off to Padraig Harrington, Dredge was in sight of making perfect amends at Celtic Manor on Sunday when he stood on the last tee one shot ahead. No Welsh player has ever lifted the trophy, but when Sterne in the group ahead sank a five-foot birdie to complete a brilliant five-under-par inward 29, Dredge suddenly had to par to force another play-off. However, for the second day running his drive failed to carry the right-hand bunker and he came up way short of the green by catching too much sand and then lipped out from six feet. “I really feel this is a kick in the nuts,” said the 33-year-old after the most crushing bogey of his career. And there was a piece of bad news to follow. By finishing in a four-way tie for second place rather than a two-way share he will just miss out on earning an exemption into next month&aposs Open Championship through the world&aposs top 50. As with the US Open, which he has still to play in, Dredge has controversially decided not to compete in the 36-hole qualifier at Sunningdale on July 2, but there are various other ways in. Sterne is the one who is no longer searching for a place at Carnoustie. Third in last week&aposs BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – he was the one to suffer last-green agony there – the 25-year-old is now into the game&aposs top 40 for the first time. “Fantastic – that saves me playing 36 holes of qualifying,” he said. The two of them had both produced superb fightbacks after looking as if they might become also-rans in the title race. Sterne birdied four of the last five holes for a 65 and 13 under par total of 263 on the par 69 Roman Road lay-out. Dredge, joint overnight leader, fell four adrift by covering the first eight holes in a desperately disappointing two over, but then birdied the ninth and 10th and had three more in a row from the 15th. There was to be no happy ending, however. “I thought I needed a par to win and I thought I had carried the bunker on the last,” he said after his bogey had dropped him into a tie with Danes Soren Kjeldsen and Mads Vibe-Hastrup and also Singaporean Mardan Mamat, who closed with a best-of-the-week 62. Mamat, who had never previously made a halfway cut in Europe, had eight birdies to climb from 23rd, while Kjeldsen and Vibe-Hastrup shot 65 and 66 respectively. Scot Gary Orr, England&aposs Paul Broadhurst and Ireland&aposs Gary Murphy were among others who still had a chance entering the closing stretch, but Murphy had to settle for a share of sixth place and the other two were in a tie for eighth. Colin Montgomerie fired a 63, his lowest round since an opening 62 in the event last year, to leap from 50th to 20th.