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Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 20:16 GMT
Tinning's tough journey
Steen Tinning of Denmark - winner of the Madrid Open
Tinning can celebrate with that right arm now
Steen Tinning may have won the Madrid Open after a terrific final-round battle, but that victory is nothing compared to the one he had 12 years ago.

In 1990, Tinning and his wife Anne were involved in a serious car crash which left his career hanging in the balance.

His right arm was detached and left dangling by skin and muscle.

For 18 months, he sat on the sidelines, missing out on what should have been the prime of his golfing career as he healed.

Unsurprisingly, Tinning struggled to find his form on returning to the European Tour and by 1996, he had lost his card.

Tinning could be forgiven for thinking that luck was not on his side.

Three years later, he suffered a broken thumb in 1999 after being struck by a wayward drive from an amateur while picking up balls on a driving range.

The Dane was, by that time, back on the circuit and getting close to his best form.


I didn't say goodbye to people, but in my mind I was finished
Steen Tinning

Having survived that injury, Tinning marked his return to top-flight golf with a victory at the Wales Open at Celtic Manor in 2000 - his first tournament win.

It was comfortably his best year on the Tour - he enjoyed two other top ten finishes and earned over 270,000.

A modest sum compared to the earnings of Tiger Woods, but then Tinning has never had the chance to compete at any of the Major tournaments held in America.

Of course, Tinning's good fortune could not last for much longer than 12 months.

Hurting

Midway through last year, he believed he had played his last-ever event because of back trouble.

"I didn't say goodbye to people, but in my mind I was finished," he said.

"I birdied the last three holes of the BMW International in Germany and thought that was a proper way to finish.

"My back was giving me so many problems just to get to the first tee. I was in the physio unit two or three times a day and there was no solution. It just kept on hurting.

"Last year with all my back problems I felt I didn't want to come back on tour but four and a half months of back exercising has been all worthwhile"

Although he still struggles to play three consecutive tournaments, the Dane is playing as well now as he ever has.

But to just be playing is probably enough for the 40-year-old who upstaged Padraig Harrington on a gripping day of golf in Madrid.

This week's golf from around the world

Madrid Open

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