Scott Henry claimed the biggest win of his career as the Scot beat Austrian HP Bacher on the second play-off hole in a thrilling finale at the Kazakhstan Open, having sunk an incredible 25 foot birdie putt at the 18th to force the extra holes.
Henry’s win came on his father’s birthday and the 25 year old paid an emotional tribute to him after the victory, which elevated the Glaswegian from 48th place to fifth in the European Challenge Tour Rankings and virtually guarantees him a European Tour card for the 2013 season.Henry was two shots off the lead held by Frenchman Alexander Levy going into the final day at Zhailjau Golf Resort but came out with all guns blazing as his playing partners in the final group struggled early on.
He carded five birdies in the front nine to reach the turn in four under par but lost his momentum somewhat on the back nine and a double bogey at the par five 15th hole meant he was overtaken at the top by Bacher, who had already finished with an eight under par 64 to move to 19 under par.Henry couldn’t get going after that error and two pars meant he needed a birdie on the final hole to force a play-off. With the crowds surrounding the green, the former Jacques Léglise Trophy Captain made light of the immense pressure by rolling in the 25 foot putt for a birdie and a three under par 69, pumping his fist to the delight of the fans.
“That is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Henry, a former winner of the Scottish Amateur Strokeplay Championship. “It was by far the biggest moment of my career and it felt incredible.”Henry had another fight on his hands when he found the bunker with his approach on the first play-off hole, while Bacher had a six foot putt for birdie after an incredible second shot from the heavy rough.
Henry got up and down, however, and Bacher could only equal that with par and when the Austrian found the bunker the second time around, Henry played it safe and knocked into the centre of the green.Bacher missed his four foot par putt and Henry two-putted to claim the €64,000 winning cheque.
“When I left for the two weeks, he told me that two good weeks in Russia and Kazakhstan would be the perfect present so to win here for him is a great feeling. He has played such a big part in my career and is always trying to get the best out of me, I think this win was for him.”Henry is hoping the win at the Challenge Tour’s ‘Major’ will be the catalyst for a long and fruitful career, and he is certainly not lacking in confidence over his prospects if he ends up in the mix going down the final stretch in a major European Tour event.
“It has hardly kicked in yet but I think I will appreciate it more and more as time goes on. I've always dreamed of playing on The European Tour and I'm confident about my game.“The performance over the last few holes today under pressure has given me so much confidence. I’m already a pretty confident guy but this gives me a lot of belief and I can’t wait to play on the big stage.”
Bacher, meanwhile, was humble and congratulatory towards his victor in defeat and he was eager to take the positives from a week which yielded the best finish of his Challenge Tour career.“I didn’t get the tee shot right either time at the 18th,” said the 25 year old, whose €44,000 runner-up prize moved him from 80th to 13th in the Rankings. “I had a tough downhill lie on the edge of the bunker for my second shot the second time around.
“The putt to lose it was exactly the same putt I holed to get a birdie and get into the play-off but I just hit it too firm.
“It’s still the best result I've ever had so that’s nice. It’s a very positive week. Going into today it looked like I had no chance of getting in any play-off and I had a great final round so I'm not too disappointed.”
Just after Henry’s putt to force the play-off, overnight leader Levy missed a short one to make it a three-way tie for the lead and he signed for a level par round of 72 to finish in outright third place on 18 under par.Lasse Jensen of Denmark, England’s Jack Senior and Henry’s compatriot Andrew McArthur all finished in tied fourth place on 17 under par