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Ramsay wins European Masters by 4 shots

CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland -- Richie Ramsay captured the biggest prize of his professional golf career on Sunday, three weeks before he returns to the scene of his greatest amateur success to get married.

The 29-year-old Scotsman shot a 5-under 66 to win the European Masters by four strokes. Ramsay was never behind in the final round in the sun-bathed Swiss Alps to finish on 16-under 267. Four players tied for second.

“It's just incredible, the whole day went to plan,” said Ramsay, adding that the win would move his career “up a notch. It definitely pushes me to another level.”

Ramsay rated his second European Tour success above his triumph in the 2006 United States Amateur Championship, which he won at Hazeltine, Minnesota.

“It's a bigger win than the U.S. Amateur,” said Ramsay, who is now based in Atlanta. “If you look at the field and the place and the way that I did it.”

His career-high prize of 350,000 euros (US$440,000) is a timely contribution to his forthcoming marriage.

On Sept. 21 he will wed his American fiancee, Angela Hudinski, at the Hazeltine club where they met during the tournament that launched his international reputation.

“I met Angela there and we're going back there to get married,” Ramsay said, joking that their guests will now expect him to fund the drinks bill.

Ramsay will get marriesd as a top-100 player. His second European Tour victory, after the South African Open in 2009, is set to move him up the world rankings from No. 110 into the top 70.

He had never before led a tour event after 54 holes, and countryman Paul Lawrie was favored Sunday as he sought back-to-back victories after winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Lawrie's challenge faded and he shot 70 for a share of sixth place in his last tournament before joining Europe's team for the Ryder Cup from Sept. 28-30 at Medinah, Illinois.

Second place was shared by Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden, Marcus Fraser of Australia, France's Romain Wattel and Danny Willett of England, who played in the final threesome with Ramsay and Lawrie.

After three days of rain, fog and low temperatures, Ramsay finally played in warmth and sunshine on the Seve Ballesteros-designed course circled by snow-capped mountains.

Ramsay started with a one-stroke lead and was quickly joined at 12 under by Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion who made eagle as the younger Scot made birdie.

Despite missing birdie chances at Nos. 5 and 6, Ramsay completed the outward nine holes in 31. He led by three at the turn from Willett, as Lawrie was let down by his driving off the tee.

Ramsay's stretched his lead to five as both playing partners dropped shots at Nos. 10 and 11, then dropped his first shot since Friday afternoon at the par-3 13th.

He effectively sealed the title by holing his approach shot — a wedge from 130 yards (119 meters) — for eagle at the par-5 14th.

“I just put my foot on the gas and that gave me some breathing space,” Ramsay said.

Earlier, Mathias Gronberg hit a hole-in-one at No. 3, sinking his 7-iron from 191 yards (175 meters). The Swede went round in 71 to finish on 8 under, eight shots behind Ramsay.

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 Roddick extends career with 4-set win over Fognini 
Scotland's Richie Ramsay watches his putt on the eighth on his way to win the European Masters golf tournament at Crans-Sur-Sierre Golf Club in Crans Montana, Sunday, Sept. 2. Ramsay claimed the biggest win of his career at the European Masters in the Swiss Alps, a final-round 66 handing him victory by a four-shot margin. (AFP)

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