CRAIG Lee moved into the safety zone in the battle for European Tour survival as Englishman Lee Slattery claimed victory in the M2M Russian Open.
Joint-second heading into the final round at Skolkovo Golf Club on the outskirts of Moscow, Lee never really got into the shake-up after starting with a bogey.
He recovered from that early blow with back-to-back bogeys at the third and fourth before a dropped shot at the ninth took him out in level-par.
The 38-year-old Stirling man got into red figures again with a birdie at the 12th, only to give that back three holes later and signed for a closing 71. On 11-under par, he finished joint-eighth – the same position the former Tartan Tour player ended up seven days earlier in the Czech Masters.
Lee earned around £16,500 for his latest effort and has picked up close to £32,000 in the last two events, lifting up to 108th – two inside the safety line – on this season’s money-list.
With seven regular events remaining before the lucrative “Final Series”, David Drysdale has also boosted his hopes of avoiding a visit to the Qualifying School. A third successive 69 saw him finish joint-14th on nine-under, earning a cheque for just under £11,000 to move to 114th on the rankings.
Facing a bigger challenge over the final weeks of the campaign to hang on to a card is Chris Doak, though he is showing signs of being able to achieve that target since he linked up with his new coach, Kevin Craggs. Doak finished joint-17th – his best effort of the season in a stroke-play event – to move to 155th in the Race to Dubai.
Scott Jamieson, the first-round leader, finished alongside his compatriot on eight-under. It wasn’t the result he was looking for after opening with a 65, but the Glaswegian is 97th on the rankings so can try to push hard over the coming weeks to make the “Final Series”.
Slattery’s hopes of competing in that have certainly been boosted after a second European Tour triumph catapulted him to 66th in the Race to Dubai.
The 37-year-old started the final day with a two-stroke advantage. He began in impressive fashion with a birdie at the first hole, but he soon found himself over par with bogeys at the second and sixth holes.
Slattery dug deep, however, and as a host of challengers began to emerge, he picked up three shots on the way home – including a hugely important holed chip at the 17th – before sinking a knee-jangling three footer at the 18th for a par, which earned him a two-under 69, a 15-under total, one better than Tano Goya from Argentina and a first win since the 2011 Madrid Masters.
“Going back over the last year and a half off the golf course, I’ve got married, had a kid and moved house,” said Slattery. “My wife’s dad is very ill as well, so this is for him.”