Swedish lifeline for Higgins

By Brian Keogh

David Higgins grabbed his second top 10 of the season and a European Tour lifeline in Sweden.

The Waterville ace pocketed a cheque for €30,720 to jump 20 spots to 156th on the Order of Merit.

A final round 69 in the Scandinavian Masters left him tied for 10th behind last-gasp winner Mikko Ilonen of Finland.

And with earnings of €115,192, Higgins reckons he needs only another €90,000 to win back his card.

Higgins insisted: "It's all to play for now over the next few weeks. I reckon I'll need around €200,000 to be looking good for next year."

Higgins has only had limited chances to shine this season after failing to retain full playing right at last year's qualifying school.

And while he has only played 15 events, he hopes to play at least four on the next five.

He added: "I am getting into the next three events and then there is the Quinn Direct British Masters.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the week, I'm playing well and I am really looking forward to the rest of the season.

"I have a big few weeks coming up but feel I am playing well enough to have another couple of tops 10s."

Bred on links golf, Higgins hopes to keep his momentum going on seaside terrain in next week's KLM Dutch Open at Kennemer.

In Sweden he played steadily and his closing, one-under par 69 left him just four shots adrift of shock winner Ilonen at Arlandastadon GC on two-under.

The Finn claimed his second European Tour title when he birdied the par-three 18th and looked on as long-time leader Martin Kaymer ran up a costly double bogey in the match behind.

Kaymer's closing five dropped back into a share of second place on four under with French pair Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Christian Cevaer, local favourite Peter Hedblom and England's Nick Dougherty.

Peter Lawrie hit a 69 to finish shot behind Higgins in a share of 12th place with Damien McGrane (71) in 36th and Gary Murphy (72) in tied 49th.