Fisher defends European Open


Ross Fisher defends his title at the London Club this week as the European open rolls into Kent.

The Englishman will be full of confidence too after his final-round 64 at the weekend's BMW PGA Championship saw him push eventual winner Paul Casey all the way.

Casey got up and down from a bunker on the last to win the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth - and became world number three.

After a terrific battle with Fisher, Casey birdied the two closing par fives just like his fellow Englishman to grab the first prize of €750,000 and move up four places on the rankings. He also now leads The Race To Dubai.

Fisher was only one outside the course record with his best of the week 64, but it was not quite enough after he resumed five behind.

It needed three birdies in the last four holes for 31 year old Ryder Cup star Casey to hold off the challenge of his fellow Englishman.

The outcome was far from certain when Casey, 41st in the world at the start of 2009 and seventh entering the tournament, found a greenside bunker with his approach to the par five last.

But he splashed out to five feet and made no mistake with a tricky left to right putt.

"It was not an easy putt, but any putt to win is something I would like to have," said Casey.

"There are great names on this trophy and it feels great. A lot of people have put in a lot of work, but I have to thank Peter Kostis, my coach in the States.

"He's more than a coach and we set some lofty goals at the start of the year."

Casey has not disclosed what they were, but World Number Three would certainly have been stretching things, certainly before the end of May.

“Reaction to three in the world? Wow, yeah, that's pretty cool,” he added.

“I haven't really thought about it too much. I had no idea I think until you told me earlier this week, that I would move to Number Three. But I'm excited about that..

“I would love to give myself an opportunity to challenge in The Race to Dubai. That's huge money to be won there, and it's very attractive. Plus, the prestige that goes with that - I think you get a nice exemption as well, a five or seven year exemption winning The Race to Dubai. That's very appealing, something I would like to snap up.”

Fisher admitted his runner-up finish was tinged with regret but he will now aim for a successful defence of his The European Open title next week at The London Club.

“I couldn't really give it anymore than I did today,” he said.

“I played some great golf. Fortunately, I holed a few putts and made some really good saves at key times and into the back nine, thought if I can just make a few more birdies, put Paul under a bit of pressure, I've got a chance.

“But 64, what more can I ask for? Paul was a great champion - I witnessed his golf the first two days and knew he was going to be tough to beat. Obviously to come up one shy is disappointing, but hey, it's a great week for myself.”

Third was Dane Søren Kjeldsen and fourth Welshman Stephen Dodd, a welcome return to form for the former World Cup winner now ranked 477th in the world.

“This is a very big tournament for us, and it's one we all love to win,” said Kjeldsen. “Therefore, obviously, there's a little bit of disappointment in there, but I'm happy with the way I played, and I'm going to take a lot of good stuff away from this.”

Dodd commented: “It may take a few weeks to uncover the cracks I've had in the last couple of years, but it will be nice to go back to The European Open. I have won that before it will bring back some fond memories and hopefully spur me on a little.”

See the new issue of Golf World for an exclusive interview with Ross Fisher, as he takes us for a drive in his new Lamborghini.