LONDON - Reuters
Ross Fisher's stunning seven-shot triumph at the European Open helped the young Briton exorcise the demons of his 72nd-hole blunder at the Champions Tournament in November.
Fisher, vying for the Shanghai title with Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood, found water at the last with victory in his grasp and had to show nerves of steel to hole out from eight feet for a double-bogey seven that set up a three-way playoff.
World number two Mickelson then went on to lift the first trophy of the 2007-08 European Tour season after two holes of sudden death.
"To push Mickelson the way I did was a great achievement but I feel it was a tournament I should have won," the 27-year-old Fisher told reporters after his runaway victory at the London Club Sunday.
"It was bitterly disappointing but some people seem to forget I holed a good eight-footer to get myself in the playoff. After hitting it into the water I managed to show strength of character to still give myself a chance to win."
The big-hitting Englishman said he gained pride from the resilience he showed in Shanghai.
"I took a lot from that," said Fisher after a closing 68 earned a 20-under-par total of 268 and a seven-shot win over Spain's Sergio Garcia on the outskirts of London.
"I learned a lot, knowing I can compete. I felt like I played well against Phil for two days.
"I don't know if it sounds big-headed but I felt like I should have won."
However, the 2007 Dutch Open champion had to wait another eight months to land the second title of his career against another heavyweight lineup at the European Open and the manner of his victory made several people sit up and take notice.
"Obviously he (Fisher) is a very, very good player," said British Open champion Padraig Harrington after finishing down the field in joint 17th place.
"Most players rate him very highly and always feel like he is well capable of doing this more regularly. He'll grow with experience and he is certainly one of the players you would expect to be a mainstay of the tour in the future."
World number eight Garcia tried to turn the heat up on Fisher with a best-of-the-day 66 in the final round but it proved in vain.
"When you get a player that gets in that kind of zone, it doesn't matter what you do," said the Spaniard.
"I was trying to put pressure on him, making a lot of birdies, and still he wasn't backing up. I couldn't do any more."
Britain's Graeme McDowell, who partnered Fisher in the final two rounds, said: "I was disappointed not to give it a better run but Ross played fantastic golf.
"He drove the ball great and holed every putt he needed to. He would have been a tough man to catch even if I had been on my game the last couple of days."