Switzerland’s André Bossert denied Markus Brier a home victory in the MAN NÖ Open when he defeated the Austrian at the first extra-hole of a sudden-death play-off.
Brier, chasing a fifth title in his native Austria, bravely birdied the last to match Bossert’s round of 66 as the pair finished locked together on 15 under par 265 but Bossert, who had edged ahead in the thrilling final day contest with a birdie of his own on the 17th hole at GC Adamstal, Ramsau, was not to be denied.
A par three on the first play-off hole to Brier’s five gave the 44 year old his first Tour title since winning the 1995 Air France Cannes Open on The European Tour International Schedule. The €22,400 lifted him a 130 places on the Challenge Tour Rankings to 33rd and a place within the top 20, and subsequently a card for The European Tour, is now within reach.
“It is great to get the feeling on winning again,” said Bossert. “It has been a while but it is never too late. Markus and Klas made it tough for me but I have put a lot of hard work into this and the feeling is tremendous.”
With a terrible forecast of storms throughout the afternoon, players were sent out early to try to avoid the predicted inclement weather. Bossert, Brier and Eriksson made up the final grouping and there was little to separate the three over a thrilling final round.
The tension reached a dramatic climax over the last three holes as Brier sensationally holed what looked like an impossible a bunker shot on the 16th to draw level with Bossert as Eriksson bogeyed and fell one behind. Bossert, who had held the edge after three birdies on the front nine, responded by holing from eight feet on the 17th to take a one stroke lead over both his playing partners, Eriksson having also birdied the 17th, up the final hole.
Bossert made par, Eriksson’s birdie putt to tie slipped by but Brier, from 15 feet, stroked home a birdie putt to take the contest into extra holes. But on returning to the par three, Brier found trouble in the bunker and Bossert comfortably two putted for victory.
As for his chances of regaining his European Tour status now, Bossert said: “This victory makes me think differently now and that is a goal, but I need to take it step by step. I am just happy to be playing well again.”
For Brier, his bid to win a fifth title in front of his friends and family, following two previous Challenge Tour successes, one European Tour triumph and victory in the 2005 MAN NÖ Open when on the Alps Tour, fell just short.
Eriksson also challenged for the title down the stretch but the bogey four on the 16th ultimately proved costly as he fell one shy with a final round of 67 and 14 under par total of 266. His consolation was a climb up the Rankings into 14th place from 23rd, with the top 20 at the end of the season securing a European Tour card.