PETER Whiteford’s dramatic ascent up the European golf rankings showed no sign of slowing down in Italy last week.
The Kirkcaldy golfer made it three top 10 finishes in a row at the Italian Open, finishing just two shots behind winner Robert Rock in fourth place on 19 under par.
The 75,000 euro cheque took Whiteford’s earnings from his last three events alone to 218,000 euros, and moved him up to 39th place in the Race to Dubai. He is also now ranked inside the world’s top 200 golfers for only the second time in his career.
He also qualified to compete in his first Open championship earlier this month, and will compete for the Claret Jug at Royal St.George’s in July.
“When you include The Open qualifier, that’s three-and-a-half tournaments in a row I’ve made the top 10,” he said. “I played lovely again in Italy, and I’m really happy with the way things are going.
“The most pleasing thing is that the good form has lasted. I’ve always been capable of producing a good week, but I’ve never had the staying power. Everything seems to be working at the moment.”
Whiteford led the Italian Open for most of the first round, but a double bogey on the par five 18th dropped him back behind the early running.
However, some sparkling golf over the next three rounds, including a stunning bogey-free six under par final round, saw him come within a whisker of his first European Tour win.
“After my seven at the end of the first round, I picked up an early bogey at the start of day two, and in times gone by I might have started to worry about the cut mark, which was going to be set around four under because of the low scoring,” he said. “But I knew the way I was playing meant I had birdies in me so I didn’t panic, and I ended up five under for the round which was great.
“I struggled a bit through the third round on Saturday but managed to squeeze a four under out of it. I’ve always said that it’s not how good your good golf is, but how well you score when you’re having a bad day. The fact that I scored well on Saturday without playing well was probably the most pleasing bit of the week.”
Whiteford was in contention going into the final four holes on Sunday, and came within two 10 feet putts of tying the leader.
“I had the chances coming down the back nine, but I just didn’t convert,” he said. “But it’s good that I’m pressing on towards the end of tournaments instead of defending.”
Whiteford flew down to London on Wednesday to take part in a charity day in aid of Corbets Tey School, which looks after children with learning disabilities. After a weekend break for the US Open, he returns to the Tour for the BMW Open in Germany next week.