Golf: Rich pickings for Bickerton; FRENCH OPEN: Big payday boosts Midlander's Ryder Cup hopes.
IT is 17 years since Droitwich lad John Bickerton won the Birmingham Mail Champion of Champions title for the second year running and picked up a voucher for pounds 100.
He's come on a bit since then and yesterday picked up a cheque for pounds 458,576 in winning the French Open, beating off a class field that included Malcolm Campbell, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter.
It's an enormous sum of money and rocketed the amiable Worcestershire man into 10th spot in the Ryder Cup table.
Asked for his thoughts on such a win, Bickers gave a typical Midlander's reply.
"Well," he said, "I'm a lot richer!"
When asked about the Ryder Cup he added: "You try to put the financial side to the back of your mind and concentrate on playing golf.
"If you play good golf the other things come naturally but it is very nice."
The 36-year-old is now based in Germany, but was back home in Droitwich today to visit his parents, particularly his mother who is seriously ill, and his son George.
Life has not always been easy during his 11 years on the European Tour but he delighted his friends last October when he won his first Tour title - the Open de Canarias - after 287 events and five second places.
England's Paul Broadhurst, whose final-round 67 was good enough for a share of 12th, also moved up a place to seventh on the European list.
"It's not enough. I still need a good performance and I would love to do well at the Open," said the 40-year-old from Atherstone.
"If I can play steadily for the next couple of weeks I can go into the Open with some confidence."
It was a good weekend for Midland golfers.
Tony Allen of Maxstoke Park had his best ever result on the Seniors Tour when he came third in the Benidat London Seniors Masters and collected his biggest cheque so far of pounds 10,500.
It wins him a place in the Wentworth Senior Masters from August 4-6.
In Moscow, Coventry's Matt Cryer was runner-up to England colleague Seve Benson in the Russian Open.
IN THE MONEY... John Bickerton with the French Open trophy.