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5 September 2004

Ryder Cup wildcard Luke Donald wins the 2004 Omega European Masters


26 year-old Luke Donald became the first player since Jose Maria Olazabal to win the Omega European Masters on his debut appearance, with a five-stroke lead over Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez. His 266,660 euro prize money equals his biggest European Tour money win and now puts him at 681,950 euros overall on the 2004 Volvo Order of Merit.

With the Ryder Cup trio of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia starting the final round with only one stroke difference, an exciting day's action was guaranteed in Crans-Montana. The fourth consecutive day of glorious sunshine brought out 15,000 spectators for the fourth round of the tournament. Their visit was rewarded with some early action as Luke Donald set the tone for the day with an eagle on the first hole. With some inspired shots over the first nine holes, good friends Donald and Garcia went head-to-head in a challenge for the leadership, both completing the first half of the course with an identical 33 strokes. Jimenez put in an equally solid performance, trading the ups and downs of birdies and bogeys for the consistence of a smooth run of pars and one birdie over the front nine. It was then that the pressure started to take its toll on the leaders, with only Luke Donald managing to hole more than one birdie over the back nine and all three players dropping shots on the 11th and 16th. Ultimately, Donald's eagle on the first and birdies on the last two holes helped him secure a five-stroke lead over Ryder Cup team-mate Jimenez to take first place and a gold Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra watch. Commenting on his victory, Donald admitted that "This was more than I expected. I knew I had the ability to win two tournaments but having the ability and doing it are two different things. I'm glad I made the decision to come over and play over here and rejoin the European Tour and everything has worked out just perfectly." Despite his consistent performance, Miguel Angel Jimenez managed no better than one over par on the final round to leave him 14 under overall. The Ryder Cup 1-2-3 was completed by Sergio Garcia in third place, whose good start was ultimately marred by two dropped shots and a double bogey on the 14th to leave him one over par on the last round and six shots behind the winner. Fellow Omega ambassador Ernie Els also put in an excellent performance, not dropping a single shot on his final round until the very last hole, where an unfortunate double bogey knocked him down to seventh place overall. In a repetition of the order at the US Masters, Korea's K. J. Choi, who enjoyed the tournament so much that he said he will come back with his wife next year, finished only one shot behind the world number three after a respectable 4 under 67 on his final round.

The new Omega Constellation Double Eagle Chronograph on offer for the lowest round went to England's Robert Coles, who carded an impressive seven under 64 on his final round with eight birdies and only one dropped shot. His overall score of 13 under placed him third equal, level with Garcia and previous winner Eduardo Romero.


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