Marshall vows to build on success

Dereham golfer Andrew Marshall insists he can mix it with Europe's elite after his stunning second spot in the Johnnie Walker Championships at Gleneagles.

Dereham golfer Andrew Marshall insists he can mix it with Europe's elite after his stunning second spot in the Johnnie Walker Championships at Gleneagles.

Marshall's 15-under 277 total catapulted him nearly 100 places up this season's Order of Merit as he fended off Ryder Cup stalwarts Thomas Bjorn and Colin Montgomerie to finish one stroke behind winner Paul Casey.

The 32-year-old's first top ten finish since the KLM Open in August 2004 earned him the biggest pay day of his 11-year professional career - a cheque for £121,595 and the taste for more success.

“It's been a long time coming,” admitted Marshall, prior to flying to Paris for this week's French Open. “When you are struggling to break par most weeks and missing cuts, to go out and shoot 15-under was unbelievable. I've done well in smaller events before but to do it at Gleneagles was special. For me, that is a proper golf course - one that separates the men from the boys.

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“To be honest I've found tour golf fairly tough but this feels like a breakthrough. My game has come on leaps and bounds and I just love everything about the way of life, even when things are not going well.

“Hopefully I can build on it now and get some decent finishes. To stay inside the top 60 is a realistic target - that gets me into the Volvo Masters towards the end of the year and its those type of events where you pick up bigger prize money.

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“Every player on tour at the start of the season wants to keep their card. Above that you aim for the top 60 and then to win a tournament. I could've won at Gleneagles. I just needed to find two shots.”

Marshall allowed himself only a brief glimpse at the leaderboard down the home stretch.

“I wasn't looking out for my name - just for the guy at the top who was 17-under,” he said. “I was 14-under at that point so it was case of finding a couple of birdies over the closing holes. I made a nice putt on 15 and then hit it into the rough on 16. My third shot plugged in the bunker - that was probably my worst of the week - but I produced a miraculous shot to save par.

“I pushed my second about three yards too long on the final hole but still had a makeable 14 footer for birdie.

“There wasn't any extra pressure over the back nine - I didn't really allow myself to feel any. I wouldn't go as far to say it felt easy but it certainly came very natural all week.”

Marshall's relaxed approach was partly due to recent sessions with the same sports psychologist who worked with 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell.

“It's something I've tried from time to time in the past,” he said. “When things are a real struggle and you haven't started the season well it's good to have a sounding board.

“We talked about being 'target conscious' rather than 'score conscious' - basically hitting areas of the golf course rather than chasing numbers.

“I came in on the Friday knowing I'd played well but it was only when I signed my card for a 67 (six under) that I thought 'wow'. I didn't drop a shot on the back nine or three putt all week, but it was my caddie who pointed that out to me.

“Campbell is motivated by goals like finishing inside the top three on the Order of Merit or performing to a certain level in tournaments. It's something I'll look to carry on and take into the rest of the season.”

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