Warren Bennett secured his first victory on the European Tour with a four foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off against Dutchman Rolf Muntz in the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles.
Bennett, the runaway winner of the Challenge Tour last year after claiming five titles, shot a final round of 69, three under par to set the clubhouse target of 282, six under. Muntz came to the last needing a par and after finding a bunker with his second shot, bravely got up and down from the front of the green to save his par and earn a place in the play-off.
Back they went to the 533-yards par-five18th and, after both players hit two magnificent shots just short of the green, it was left to the chipping. Bennett flicked a sand wedge to four feet while Muntz’s shot came up 15 feet short. The Dutchman’s birdie putt slipped past leaving Bennett with a four footer for the £41,664 first prize.
Bennett said: “It is a year ago since I last won. But I contended so many times as well as winning. It all helps. You get your mind focused on what you did last year and it is pretty much automatic. You know you can’t make any mistakes coming in because you will lose the tournament.
“I felt quite nervous but very comfortable in the play-off. As soon as I stood over that putt to win I thought “Oh dear I’ve got this to win” But then I thought you’ve got to take this chance. Think positive.
“Definitely the highlight of my career.”
For Muntz, who also finished in the top ten in the TNT Dutch Open, it was agonisingly close to being his first Tour victory after leading for so much of the tournament. A chance from ten feet on the 17th just missed and then on the play-off a putt of slighly longer just hung on the lip.
“I played well all day, he said “It was just not to be. Disappointing.”
A shot further back was another Englishman Roger Winchester and overnight leader Klas Eriksson, both of whom had chances but couldn’t quite convert them. Eriksson’s downfall came at the fifth hole when he ran up a triple bogey seven, while Winchester had three putts from within 15 feet for birdie in the last four holes.
Meanwhile, with the event split between Tartan Tour and European Tour players, the award for the Scottish PGA Champion of Scotland went to Greig Hutcheon. The Kent-based Scot who used to work alongside Open Champion Paul Lawrie at Banchory, fired a level par 73 in the final round to finish on level par and top of the Scottish contingent.
“I’m delighted to win the Scottish title,” he said. “my best finish on Tour was 15th so if I have beaten that I’m well chuffed.”