Sunday, 14 May 2000
Johan Rystrom holed a 15-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole to pip Henrik Stenson in an all-Swedish playoff for the Costa Blanca Challenge in Spain. The pair had finished tied on 12-under-par 276, Rystrom after a 70, while Stenson returned 72.

Stenson should have made a playoff unnecessary because he led by one playing the final hole. But he three-putted to fall back into a tie with Rystrom.

They returned to the par-four 18th for the playoff and both found the green in regulation and were faced with birdie putts of around 15 feet. But while Stenson's appeared to hit a pitch mark and come up a foot short, Rystrom rolled his in to take the title and the first prize of 12,994 euro.

"When I was playing the 18th in normal play I felt Henrik would win," said Rystrom. "But in the playoff I felt the title could be mine. I played the front nine of this course well all week but the back nine has proved a problem. My swing doesn't seem to hold up under pressure."

For Stenson it was yet another story of what might have been. This was his fourth runner-up in less than a year. He was second in the Swedish Matchplay, second again in the Grand Final in Cuba last October, second again in Kenya this year and now the bridesmaid once again.

"I only played so-so today," he said. "I didn't putt well, I missed some short ones but I was unlucky on the 11th when my ball lipped out."

However, there was consolation for Stenson who climbed to the top of the rankings with 21,110 euro, over 1,500 more than previous leader Trevor Immelman from South Africa.

Third was England's James Hepworth, who carded a 67 for 277 to finish one outside the playoff. It was easily his best Challenge Tour finish and promises more to come.

"On the 15th tee I felt I had a good chance to win," he said. "But on 15 I just managed to salvage a par. It felt like a bogey and after that I felt my chance had gone. Nevertheless, I'm pleased and my priority, like everyone else, is to finish in the top 15 this year to secure my card for the main tour."

Another Swede, Martin Erlandsson, who was in the top two all week, could only return 72 to slip back to fourth on 278, while Carlos Larrain or Venezuela (70), Mark Pilkington, from Wales (70), and Australian Tony Carolan (71) were joint fifth on 279.

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