Bjorn again as Thomas wins in Qatar to get back in big time
Ranked only 134th in the world, Bjorn captured the Commercialbank Qatar Masters by a commanding four strokes from Spaniard Alvaro Quiros yesterday.
The 11th Tour victory of his career should put the former Ryder Cup star, who was as high as 10th on the rankings a decade ago, into the elite 64-man field for the Accenture World Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month.
And it is a huge boost to his hopes of earning a place in this July's Open on the same Sandwich course, where he blew a three-shot lead over the closing stretch in 2003.
Bjorn, twice a Ryder Cup vice-captain and current chairman of the Tour's tournament committee, was thrilled to show he still has what it takes on the course.
"It's a big win and hopefully it can push me onto bigger things," he said after signing for a closing 69 and 14-under-par total of 274. "When I play like this I know I can play against the best."
While world No 1 Lee Westwood missed the cut and No 2 Martin Kaymer came only 28th - he needed a top-two finish to dethrone Westwood - Bjorn did not have a single bogey in his last 47 holes. Big-hitting Quiros, first and second in the event the past two years, made a back-nine charge and closed the gap to one as Bjorn reeled off 14 pars in a row in the windy conditions.
But, after Quiros three-putted the 470-yard 15th Bjorn, armed with a new driver that gave him an extra 10 yards, hit a brilliant approach there to within four feet of the flag and then added further birdies on the driveable 16th and par-five 18th.
"I knew if I stuck to my game plan I would be all right. Once I hit my tee shot on 18 I knew nothing could go wrong from there.
"We're fortunate as golfers that we can keep going at the highest level at this age. I've worked hard. I'm seeing the benefits of it and this changes my travel plans a little bit - for the good."
Quiros dropped another shot on the 155-yard 17th - television commentator Ewen Murray described his choice of a wedge on the tee as "madness" - but a closing birdie took him ahead of third-placed pair Markus Brier and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
England's former world No 9 David Howell, who came into the week ranked only 352nd, returned to something like his old form with a fifth-place finish, while Sergio Garcia, who had slumped from second to 80th, was joint-ninth - his best performance for almost a year.
Stephen Gallacher and David Drysdale both closed with 70s to finish as the leading Scots in a tie for 12th on four-under, one less than Steven O'Hara and Paul Lawrie after they slipped back following final-round 74s.
In an event that saw seven of the eight Scots who started out on Thursday make the cut, Peter Whiteford (70) finished joint-37th, Richie Ramsay (70) was 45th and former winner Andrew Coltart (72) had to settle for a tie for 59th.
Meanwhile, the European Tour is set to fine Henrik Stenson and Miguel Angel Jimenez over recent club throwing incidents.
Spaniard Jimenez looks set to be penalised after he threwhis putter in a bout of frustration during last week's Volvo Champions event in Bahrain.
The four-times Ryder Cup player snapped the head off the putter but then birdied three of his closing six holes on day two of the event using a wedge.
Swede Stenson hurled a wedge back over his head into a water hazard after taking a nine at his final hole during Friday's Qatar Masters second round.
A tournament official said they would look at footage of the incidents and expected bothJimenezand Stensonto be fined for "conduct unbecoming a professional".