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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 June, 2003, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Golding claims maiden win
The 290,000 prize is almost as much as Golding has won as a pro
The 290,000 prize is almost as much as Golding has won as a pro
English journeyman Philip Golding birdied the 18th to win the French Open and claim his first European Tour victory in 200 starts.

The 40-year-old had never previously finished higher than sixth on the senior circuit, and has made a record 16 visits to the end-of-season qualifying school.

Golding, the overnight leader, went to the last hole in a tie for the lead on 14 under par. Compatriot David Howell had set that target only 15 minutes before when his eagle putt stopped an inch short of the cup.

A perfect drive to the middle of the fairway, solid approach shot to the heart of the green and measured first putt left the Luton-born player with a simple tap-in for the 290,000 first prize and a two-year guarantee of European Tour golf.

I might go to the tour school and just watch!
Philip Golding

Golding, ranked 411th in the world, emulated Yorkshireman Malcolm Mackenzie's feat of last year when he also ended his 20-year title drought at Le Golf National.

Golding said: "Apart from the birth of my child (two years ago) this is the greatest moment in my life.

"When I just failed to keep my card last season I didn't want to go back to the school, but my wife persuaded me to.

"I can't believe this. It's a dream come true and it means so much - apart from the financial side."

But that was pretty important too. The winner's cheque was almost as much as Golding, who carded a 69 on Sunday, had earned in his entire career prior to this season.

Justin Rose had to settle for a share of third place with Golding's playing partner Peter O'Malley after firing a sparkling 65 to post an early marker of 13 under.

LEADERBOARD (GB & Ire unless stated)
-15 Philip Golding
-14 David Howell
-13 Justin Rose, Peter O'Malley (Aus)
-12 Brian Davis, Andrew Oldcorn, Simon Wakefield

The 22-year-old Englishman bounced back from Saturday's disappointing 73 to card a bogey-free round that included seven birdies.

But Rose will be rueing his three-putt for par on the long 14th, not to mention his one-stroke penalty on Thursday for treading on his ball.

A shot behind Rose and O'Malley were English duo Simon Wakefield and Brian Davis and Scotland's Andrew Oldcorn.

Golding, Howell and O'Malley were later asked, along with along with Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and French pair Marc Farry and Francoise Delamontagne, to take the first-ever drug test on the European Tour.

The French Sports Ministry had informed the tour it would perform random tests two weeks ago. The results will be known in two weeks time and any positive findings will be reported to the tour and the player's national federation.

On a day of milestones at Le Golf National, McDowell claimed only the second albatross of the European Tour season.

The 521-yard 18th was playing downwind and McDowell reduced it to a drive and 136-yard wedge to go from five under to eight under.

Chris Gane had the other albatross of the year in the British Masters at Forest of Arden earlier this month - and followed it by taking 17 on one hole during last week's Diageo Championship at Gleneagles.




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