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Finish lands Fasth on Ryder Cup team

7/22/2001

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Niclas Fasth clinched a place on Europe's Ryder Cup team on
Sunday by finishing second in the British Open, three strokes behind winner David Duval.

Fasth, 29, carded a 4-under 67 after throwing caution to the wind at the start of his round, then relying on breathing exercises he had learned as an amateur to see him through the closing holes at Lytham.

He came out of the blocks with two birdies in the first three holes and four in the first seven to wrestle the lead from a large group of players in contention overnight, and he held his composure to fashion an even-par back nine, with one more birdie and a bogey over the toughest part of the course.

Fasth had broken completely new ground on his major debut after qualifying for the British Open via the mini order of merit, which began with the PGA Championship in May and ended at last week's Scottish Open.

When he won his first and only European Tour title last year, Fasth led from start to finish at the Madeira Island Open, but when he topped the leaderboard at the oldest major in the world it was time for something extra to keep the nerves at bay.

"You have to control tension," Fasth said. "Just a couple of times I got nervous, but I kept it under control. We all got taught by the Swedish Federation certain breathing techniques to help us keep calm. It's basic stuff."

Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance will be interested to hear of Fasth's technique and will hope it helps during the match in September.

Fasth admitted he had not even been thinking about the Ryder Cup, but his place in the team is now assured after he moved up to sixth place in the standings from 19th with only seven qualifying events remaining.