Thomas Bjorn turns 40 later this month, giving even more credence to Padraig Harrington’s belief that golfers who are about to celebrate a milestone birthday are well worth a punt.
“Have you heard of Elliot’s Form Guide?” Harrington asked a few weeks ago. “No? It says that players win when they are 29 and 30, and 39 and 40 because they have a point to prove. A chip on the shoulder.”
Harrington said he fancied old young guns like Paul Casey and Luke Donald to step up this season and he was proved correct when Casey won in Bahrain in the second leg of the gulf swing.
Now Bjorn has come up trumps for the Dubliner, who will celebrate his own 40th birthday in August, lifting the 11th European Tour title of his career thanks to an impressive, four-shot victory in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club.
The Dane saw off a spirited challenge from 2009 champion Alvaro Quiros to finish with a three under par 69 for a 14 under par total of 274.
Despite a surge that saw Quiros get to within a shot of Bjorn with four holes to play, the Spaniard’s swashbuckling charge was derailed in a matter of minutes on the 15th when he three-putted for bogey to drop back to nine under.
Battling breezy conditions, Bjorn birdied the same hole just minutes later with a 198-yard seven iron to four fee for his first birdie of the day and a two-shot swing that effectively killed the contest.
Two more birdies over the next three holes sealed an impressive win for Bjorn who moves back into the world’s top 60, securing his place in the top 64 who will tee it up in the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson later this month.
“In the end it became a bit of a cruise,” Born said. “But I’m delighted with the week. I played solid golf – just one bogey in the last 54 holes - and on this golf course and in these conditions, that’s good going.”
“To win a golf tournament like this by four shots is something to be proud of,” added Bjorn. “It means I can look back at and say, well, yeah, I didn’t only do it in a golf tournament; I did it when the best were playing and you’ve got to be happy with that.”
While World No 1 Lee Westwood was the highest profile casualty after failing to make the cut, World No 2 Martin Kaymer made up some ground in his efforts to become the man at the summit of golf’s world rankings with a final round one under par 71 that saw him finish in a share of 28th place. Visiting Americans John Daly and Steve Stricker both closed their Doha debuts with rounds of 74 and 69 respectively.
Bjorn ended a four year victory drought in Portugal last year but felt that his latest win was far more significant having confessed to his coach Pete Cowen that he was considering quitting the game because he simply couldn’t compete with the best any more.
“Last year, it was the smallest event. I handled myself great in that event coming down the stretch, and then obviously because I had not won for four years, it was massive. But this is different. You’ve got the best players in the world playing this week.
“So to stand up and win a golf tournament like this by four shots in the end is something that you can - that you can be proud of and look back at and say, well, yeah, I didn’t only do it in a golf tournament; I did it when the best was playing and you’ve got to be happy with that.”
Darren Clarke, who is two years older than Bjorn, continued his resurgence in form with a closing 68. It was his third successive sub 70 round and it earned him a share of 12th place and a probable return to the world’s top 100 today.
Paul McGinley and Michael Hoey shot 71st to share 45th place on one-over.