Sunday, 29 June 2014
Fabrizio Zanotti - BMW International Open Champion ()
Fabrizio Zanotti - BMW International Open Champion ()

Fabrizio Zanotti became the first Paraguayan to win on The European Tour after he came out trumps following a four man play off at the BMW International Open at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof near Cologne.

The 31 year old, who had to regain his card for this season, had to wait until the fifth play off hole to secure a memorable success after World Number Two Henrik Stenson sent his tee shot into the water.

When Stenson then pitched into the bunker the Swede's fate was all but sealed and he soon conceded to give Zanotti, who has been a runner up three times on The European Tour, his breakthrough success.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Gregory Havret had begun the four man play off, but both dropped out to pave the way for Zanotti to win, after he shot a final round 65 to catapult himself into contention.

“I was patient. I tried to play shot by shot in the play off. I'm just very happy,” Zanotti said.

“I knew today that if I made a good run I'd have a good chance. Today was my day.

“I've been working a lot and trying to build my confidence to get to this moment and finally I'm here.”

Zanotti produced the best round of the four players to reach the play off as he carded a flawless 65 for the second successive day.

The World Number 305 found himself in some high profile company, however, in the extra holes as Stenson and Cabrera-Bello – who had shared the lead with Danny Willett after the first two rounds - stormed into the play off.

Stenson booked his place by turning for home in 30 while Cabrera-Bello went birdie-eagle-birdie to snatch his place.

Stenson had narrowly missed the chance to seal victory on the final hole of regulation play when his birdie putt rolled agonisingly just short, before the Swede again missed from the same range at the start of the play off.

Havret was the first casualty of the four man decider at the second extra hole when his rivals all made birdies and the quality of the play off stepped up a notch further when they next moved to the 17th.

All three hit the green from their drives en route to birdies, but when they returned to the 18th – and the heavens opened to make conditions difficult – Cabrera-Bello crashed out when his approach bounced into the water.

Stenson then followed suit when he again tried to reach the 17th off the tee to leave Zanotti in pole position.

The Paraguayan crucially stayed dry from his following tee shot to leave Stenson needing to produce something from his bag of tricks.

The Swede was unable to do so, however, as his pitch was over hit into the bunker and when he failed to chip in from the sand Stenson conceded.

Zanotti was quickly showered in champagne to celebrate a success that might have appeared a long way off after he finished 140th in the Race to Dubai last year to surrender his card.

His regained it with a second place finish in the Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort and now, at the 181st attempt, he has a first win on The European Tour.

Overnight leader Pablo Larrazábal was unable to get his find round up and running as he went around in level par to finish on 17 under for the week and two shots off the leaders.

The Spaniard had not carded a bogey all week, but dropped shots at nine and 14 cost him.

Jamie Donaldson, Simon Dyson and Thongchai Jaidee finished a stroke behind the leaders.

The shot of the day, however, belonged to Englishman James Heath for his hole in one at the 194 yard 16th. The ace earned the 21 year old a BMW i8 and he admitted: “It more than triples the highest cheque I've ever made.

“It looks fantastic. It's certainly an upgrade from my previous vehicle.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ZANOTTI, FabrizioPAR18-19
T2HAVRET, GrégoryFRA18-19
T2STENSON, HenrikSWE18-19
T5JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18-18
T5DYSON, SimonENG18-18

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