Henrik Stenson of Sweden conjured up a stunning eagle three at the first play-off hole at Golfclub Műnchen-Nord, Eichenried, to capture the BMW International Open from South African Retief Goosen and Ireland's Padraig Harrington after the illustrious trio had finished tied on 273, 15 under par, on a day of high drama in Bavaria.
The 30 year old rolled in a four foot putt on the 18th green, where 20 minutes earlier he had two-putted for a birdie four in regulation play to join Goosen on 15 under. The phlegmatic South African had produced a majestic eagle of his own from just five feet to card the lowest final round of the play-off contenders, a five under par 67.
Harrington, who had reached the 72nd hole requiring a birdie four to snatch the title, found sand with his second shot and splashed out to 12 feet before watching his birdie putt slip just past the hole. However a par and a round of 69 were sufficient to ensure the Irishman found his way into the play-off.
European Tour Order of Merit leader, David Howell, had a golden opportunity to make it a four-way tie after 72 holes after chipping to three feet at the last, but his pulled his birdie putt and a level par 72 saw him fall just short of the shoot-out on 274, alongside another Swede, Martin Erlandsson, whose 15 footer for a birdie on the last secured a round of 70 and a share of fourth spot.
Stenson, who closed with a 68, crunched a booming drive down the 18th fairway after the leading trio had signed their cards and returned to the tee for extra time. Goosen also found the fairway but Harrington tugged his drive and found dense rough.
Goosen, who sent a glorious iron shot to five feet first time around, was not quite as accurate on this occasion, but nevertheless he found the middle of the green, pin high right. It seemed that ‘Goose’ had the slight edge over the pair of Europeans.
Stenson was next to go from the centre of the fairway. Initially, he seemed displeased with his effort with a five iron as the ball started to turn left of the green, but a kind kick off the banking saw the ball veer right and run up to within four feet of the hole.
Harrington, bunkered for a second time on the hole, splashed out close while Goosen two-putted for a birdie four. However it all became academic when Stenson added the BMW International Open to the CommercialBank Qatar Masters title he won at the start of 2006 and to get his hands on a BMW title after missing out in a play-off to Gonzalo Fernandez-Castañon in the BMW Asian Open in April.
It was a gripping climax to an epic week, in which
Stenson, whose chance could have vanished when he missed a ‘tiddler’ on the 71str geen after missing the playing surface, was clearly determined to make the most of his opportunity. His winning putt was hit with unerring accuracy and confidence and the new champion said: “I thought I had better put it away after missing that short one on the 17th in regulation. I didn’t want to make the same mistake.
“I tugged my second shot in the play-off but it seemed to bounce off the mound. Sometimes you need the breaks like that and it certainly feels good right now. I’ve started to play better in the
“It was great to be in contention – it’s been a while. However it was great practice for what’s coming up at The K Club in a few weeks time. I can’t wait!”