Ireland’s David Higgins holed a six-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole of a playoff to pip Carlos Rodiles of Spain and win the Guenther Hamburg Classic, his second victory of the year. The pair had tied on 18 under par 270 after Higgins had birdied the last three holes for a course record 64 while Rodiles also birdied the 72nd for a 66.
On a spectacular day of non-stop sunshine and low scoring, Higgins came from three off the lead with an eagle and seven birdies to trim a shot off the record set earlier in the week by Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara and equalled by several others in subsequent rounds.
Higgins, who also won the NCC Open in Sweden last month, collected over £24,000, the biggest prize ever offered on the Challenge Tour which hoists him to the top of the Order of Merit.
“I’m delighted,” he said. “It’s special when you win a tournament and I’m lucky to have done it twice. Now I have my card for next year, which is fantastic. It’s been hard over the last two years but if I felt I couldn’t do it I wouldn’t keep playing.
“But the course this week was one where you could score well and I felt I could hole a few putts which I did. I’m not going to rest on my laurels. I’m going to keep playing and try to win again.”
Rodiles led for most of the day but Higgins’ spectacular finish set the target at 18 under and left the Spaniard needing a birdie to force a playoff. That persuaded him to switch from a 3-wood to a driver for his tee shot and he left his drive on the 360-yard hole some 25 metres short of the pin.
From there he chipped to three feet and holed for birdie to take the contest into extra time. But when they returned to the 18th, Rodiles took driver again and drove into the trees. From there he went through the green and chipped to 15 feet.
Higgins played it in regulation, a 3-wood and sand wedge to six feet and after Rodiles had missed his birdie attempt, Higgins rolled his in for the title and his Tour card.
Michele Reale of Italy closed with a 68 for 272 and third place, while Simon Hurd, joint overnight leader with Alberto Binaghi of Italy, shot 70 including an eagle-three at the 569-yard 15th when he holed an 80 metre send wedge. Binaghi finished with 71 for joint fifth with Andrew Butterfield on 274.Final Results