England’s Kenneth Ferrie became the seventh first-time winner on The European Tour International Schedule in 2003 when he birdied the second play-off hole to edge out Swede Peter Hedblom and Peter Lawrie of Ireland and capture the Canarias Open de España at Golf Costa Adeje in Tenerife.
A dramatic final day in Tenerife, which saw fortunes fluctuate and several players clasp the lead only to release it, ended with Lawrie making up most ground with a closing 66 while Hedblom shot a final round 67 and Ferrie a 69. The trio finished on a tournament record 22 under par total of 266 to force a sudden-death play-off.
All three two-putted the par five 18th for birdie fours first time around in the play-off, but with first Lawrie then Hedblom missing the green on the players’ second visit to the hole, Ferrie displayed a cool head to hit the middle of the green.
Although his eagle putt from 12 feet slipped past the hole, he tapped in for a birdie while Hedblom and Lawrie were unable to match his four. It was doubly disappointing for Hedblom, who had three putted the last in regulation.
Ferrie thus became the fifth former Member of the European Challenge Tour to win in 2003, the Englishman having twice succeeded on the Challenge Tour in 2001 and 2002 as part of his education for this most important victory of his career.
The 24 year old, who has progressed each season from 257th to 193rd and 112th on the Volvo Order of Merit, moves up to fifth place on the strength of his breakthrough victory, the foundation of which was laid in the third round, when he covered the final 11 holes in seven under par in signing for a 65.
On the last day, Ferrie atoned for bogeys at the tenth and 13th by reeling off a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th, but was unable to make the birdie four at the last which would have secured outright victory – an oversight which he corrected in the play-off, by birdieing the hole twice when it counted most.
Meanwhile Hedblom, finally back on track after breaking a leg playing ice hockey in December 2001, birdied four of the last seven holes to reach 22 under par while Lawrie, another Challenge Tour graduate, birdied the 15th and 16th, bogeyed the 17th but conjured up a superb eagle three at the last thanks to a seven iron to four feet, to complete his four rounds on 266.
Ferrie, triumphant on his 56th competitive start on The European Tour, follows in the footsteps of other first-time winners Fredrik Jacobson, Trevor Immelman, Mark Foster, Lian-Wei Zhang, Robert-Jan Derksen and Bradley Dredge.
He commented: “Thankfully my finish was just good enough. I made a bogey at the 13th but hit back well with three birdies to get into the play-off. I feel great, although no doubt it will take some time to sink in. I’ve won a couple of times on the Challenge Tour but this is the next step up for me.”
Londoner Brian Davis, who had a 12 foot eagle chance on the last and missed, finished a stroke behind along with Dane Mads Vibe-Hastrup while Paul Casey, tied for the second round lead, saw his chances evaporate after losing a ball up a tree at the 11th which cost him a seven.
Spanish amateur Pablo Martin, just 17 but one of six players tied for the third round lead, was leader on his own after an opening birdie, but he triple-bogeyed the fourth and eventually finished 23rd before returning to school in Malaga this week to sit his exams.