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Paul Lawrie coasts to win in Wales

NEWPORT, Wales, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, a runner-up at the Wales Open 12 months ago, won the event in impressive fashion Sunday by recording a five-stroke triumph. It was his fifth title on the European Tour.

Lawrie goes into next week's PGA Championship in Minnesota seeking a third consecutive tournament victory, having also won the Scottish Professional Match Play title.

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He had to play 36 holes Sunday because of weather problems the tournament suffered earlier in the week and finished with a 2-under 70 Sunday for a 16-under total of 272. That vaulted him into the top 15 on the European money list.

"It was nice to come back and win this time," said Lawrie. "I played well last year and didn't win. This time I putted a lot better. The 65 in the second round was the key.

"When you are coming on and off the course because of the weather, it is difficult to keep your focus and concentration but I did that very well. My ball striking was fantastic that day.

"I think it is coincidence that I seem to play well in bad weather and I am as capable of playing in beautiful sunshine as I am in bad weather but I do seem to win tournaments when it is unpleasant. I will now go to the PGA and try my best. I'm looking forward to going there with my game in good shape."

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Lawrie moved two shots clear of the field at the halfway stage following a course record equalling 65 in the second round but after inclement weather on the Friday, the leaders were required to play 36 holes on the final day.

While Lawrie marched to the title, the race for second place was entertaining. England's John Bickerton, Mikko Ilonen of Finland, South African Martin Maritz, the defending champion Paul McGinley, and Australian Lucas Parsons were involved in a closely fought battle to finish runner-up.

Bickerton eventually claimed that honor, making a birdie at the 17th and then saving par from the bunker on the last for a final round of 70 and a 277 total.

"I was never going to catch Paul," said Bickerton. "He was hot today and played lovely golf but it was nice to hang on at the end for second spot. I'm delighted."

Ilonen, the 2000 Amateur Champion, recorded his best finish on The European Tour, claiming outright third place at 278.

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