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Dodd Savours First European Tour Victory in Shanghai

Welshman Stephen Dodd, who made his European Tour debut as an amateur 15 years ago, savoured his first Tour victory at the 166th attempt when he withstood the challenge of Dane Thomas Björn to win the Volvo China Open at Shanghai Silport Golf Club in China.

Both players closed with four under par rounds of 68, enabling Dodd to triumph by three strokes with a 12 under par total of 276.

Dodd collected €127,621 (£89,602) to soar to the top of The 2005 European Tour Order of Merit, comforted by the knowledge that he has an exemption until the end of the 2006 season.

The 38 year old had made ten visits to the Tour Qualifying School down the years, but Dodd showed that he has puts those experiences to good use by leading the first event on The 2005 European Tour International Schedule after the second and third rounds and closing the deal despite the close attentions of Björn.

Dodd was almost lost for words in describing his career breakthrough. He said: "All I wanted to do was to go out and do my very best and that's what I did. Sometimes it's not in your own hands. Sometimes, the other person plays really well and you can't do much about it. But fortunately, it was my turn to play well.

"I really can't put it to words, to be honest, I'm just delighted that I won. My emotions at the moment? I really don't know what to say. Maybe you can ask me that tomorrow," added Dodd.

Björn, three behind at the start of the day, matched Dodd’s opening birdie but a bogey at the fifth coupled with the Welshman’s birdie at the next ensured that the Danish Ryder Cup player never got close enough to put in a blow.

Dodd three putted the 17th for only his second bogey of the day but his birdies at the 11th, 12th, 14th and 18th had drawn the sting of a Björn assault which included four birdies between the ninth and 15th. On the 554 yard last it was Dodd who was on in two after Björn had driven into the rough and been forced to lay up. Dodd then sank a 12 foot birdie putt to secure his long-overdue victory..

Björn tipped his cap to the victor as he continued his revival from a recent dip in confidence. He commented: "There was not much I could do, he played really well.

"From the sixth through to the 13th, I can't play any better. He made birdies - I didn't hole anything. Then I made that charge and I can't play much better than I did in those stretch of holes, and that's where you need to turn the tournament around and Stephen did all the right things.

"I said yesterday if I shot 67 I could win the tournament but I wouldn't have come close. I needed to shoot a 65 to match him and on this golf course. That's a lot. You just have to take your hat off to him. Here's a win for the good guy and Stephen is definitely one of the good guys."

Björn needed a stroke of good luck to reel in the leader but his chip on 13th hit the flag and he subsequently missed the birdie putt. The Dane could only rue his missed opportunity as Dodd drained his birdie attempt on the same hole which gave him a four shot edge.

"I nearly holed it for two (on the 13th) and walk off with a four, that's golf. Sometimes they go for you, sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately, it's another second place for me. You've got to take some good from that. You want to win golf tournaments but when you come up with a guy who plays as well as Stephen did, you just say well done," said the Dane.

Joint third were Thai golfers Chawalit Plaphol and Thaworn Wiratchant along with Australian Jason Dawes, whose closing 66 included a hole-in-one on the 185-yard eighth.
Courtesy of www.europeantour.com

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