Gronberg fires Sunday 65, wins his weight in cheese

Updated: May 4, 2003, 2:40 PM ET
Associated Press

BRESCUIA, Italy -- Sweden's Mathias Gronberg shot a 7-under-par 65 Sunday for a two-shot victory at the $1.21 million Italian Open.

Colin Montgomerie, who started the final round five strokes off the lead, closed with a 65 and finished tied for second with Jose Manuel Lara (65) and Ricardo Gonzalez (70).

Gronberg, 33, had an eagle, six birdies and a bogey in the final round at Gardagolf Country Club, and finished at 17-under 271 for his fourth career European tour victory. His final-round 65 was just a stroke off the Gardagolf course record.

Gonzalez held a three-stroke lead entering the final round, but struggled, finishing with a double bogey, two bogeys, an eagle and four birdies.

As well as the first-place check, Gronberg received his weight in Grana Padona (parmesan) cheese, one of the more unusual bonuses on the European tour.

Gonzalez extended his overnight one-shot advantage with an early eagle, but, as Gronberg powered through the field with four birdies before the turn and an eagle at the 12th, the Argentine lost ground after double-bogeying the seventh.

Lara set the target but was left to rue a bogey on the last, while Montgomerie, who had made a blazing start with a birdie at the second and a 20-foot eagle putt at the third, had left himself too much to do.

Gronberg cited his work with Tiger Woods' former coach Butch Harmon last year and a putting tip from fellow Swede Mattias Eliasson as the reasons for his win.

"Three years between victories is no fun," added Gronberg, whose third win came in the 2000 South African Open.

"When I saw I was out of the world's top 200 recently it was a real shock to the system.

"Hopefully, this will lift my confidence now.

"I played very, very good golf in 2001 but my son Van was born on May 11 last year and I didn't take 2002 very seriously after that.

"I only played 17 events, but this year I'm planning 25 or 26 and with three big events in the next three weeks, I'm hoping this season is going to be a different story."

Gronberg tipped the scales at 200 pounds at his weigh-in and he was delighted to be the tournament's big cheese.

"My family and I are going to eat it all," he said. "I think I put on some extra kilos this week nibbling at the cheese every time I went past the stall at the tournament, so that made the prize even bigger."

South African Martin Maritz and Britain's Simon Khan shared fifth place three strokes adrift of Gronberg, but long-time front-runner Peter O'Malley of Australia failed to lift his game beyond a 72 to finish tied ninth on 12-under.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE