Peter Hanson will be buying dinner tonight after beating his close friend and fellow Swede Peter Gustafsson in a sudden-death play-off to win the Jazztel Open de España en Andalucia at the San Roque Club.
The pair finished the regulation 72 holes locked together on eight under par 280 after Gustafsson made up five shots on the final day with a sensational six under par 66, equalling the low round of the week, to Hanson’s 71.
They returned to the 18th in sudden-death and with the wind coming off the left and water on the right, both players pulled their second shots left. Gustafsson’s chip ran 15 feet past but Hanson kept his composure with a delicate chip that finished stone dead. When Gustafsson’s par putt slipped by, Hanson had the shortest of tap-ins to claim his first title.
“I am really happy with the way I played today under that pressure, coming out with the lead,” said Hanson, who started the day two clear of Hennie Otto of South Africa. “I don’t think I missed any shots the whole way round. A couple of bad clubs, on the first and fifth, but apart from that it was really good golf.
“This means a lot to me. It is always hard to get your first win and I haven’t been in this position of being able to win many times, so to pull it off on my first time feels great.”
Hanson turned professional in 1998 with great things expected of him after a good amateur career which included victory in the English Amateur Strokeplay Championship and strong performances in the Amateur Championship and representing Sweden.
But it took a few years to settle into professional life, and particularly playing championship courses on a regular basis. But a runners-up finish in last year’s Scandinavian Masters and fourth place finish in the Volvo Masters Andalucia at nearby Valderrama gave a hint of what was to come.
The fact that he spends the winter practising on the Costa del Sol with Gustafsson further helped his preparations so when the opportunity arose, he seized it with both hands.
His victory, the 57th Swedish win on The European Tour, earns him his largest cheque of €275,000 (£190,614) and lifted him to eighth on The European Tour Order of Merit.
Like so many good players, his grounding came on the Challenge Tour where he won the Gunther Hamburg Classic in 2001, and at San Roque he became the 70th former Challenge Tour player to win on The European Tour. Between those 70 players, they have won 134 titles.
He was also the fifth first time winner of the 2005 season and second wire-to-wire champion.
For Gustafsson, winner of the Qualifying School over this course last November, it was a fantastic effort as he bounced back from a 75 in the third round with a stunning display of attacking golf on the final day.
Needing to get off to a flying start, Gustafsson made six birdies in his first nine holes, with just one dropped shot for an outward half of 31. Eight pars and a birdie on the 15th brought him home in 35 for a 66 and the clubhouse target.
“I was hoping to come out and get a good start and that’s what happened,” said Gustafsson. “The weather was good at the beginning and I thought I had a chance to win it with eight under in the clubhouse. But Peter played fantastic yesterday and today. I guess he deserves it. At least he will be buying dinner tonight.”
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie also enjoyed another good week in Spain’s national Open when, two years after finishing joint second, he claimed a share of third place with Otto at five under par 283, birdieing the last two holes for a 69.
Otto looked to be the main challenger for the title, drawing level with Hanson with an eagle on the ninth at eight under par but double bogeys on the tenth and 15th ended his title hopes. A birdie on the last for a 72 secured a share of third place.
Stephen Dodd of Wales, his confidence growing since his victory in the Volvo China Open at the start of the season, matched Gustafsson’s low round of 66 to lie joint fifth with Swede Robert Karlsson on three under par 285.