Jacquelin edges remarkable play-off

21/04/2013 20:10:00
Raphael Jacquelin  (Getty Images)
Raphael Jacquelin (Getty Images)

Raphaël Jacquelin drew on all of his experience to edge a prolonged, record-equaling play-off in the Open de España and claim his first victory on The European Tour for just over two years.

The final round at Parador de El Saler could not separate those in contention as Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer and Jacquelin required extra holes.

Each produced successive pars on the 18th to begin the three way contest as they continued to cancel each other out, only for Kieffer and Jacquelin to deliver birdies at the third time of asking. 

After Aguilar had missed the green, Jacquelin found a brilliant approach while Kieffer could only leave a 30 footer. 

Amazingly, the German holed a perfect putt dead weight, meaning Jacquelin’s subsequent gain ensured another hole, albeit this time without Aguilar. 

Anyone expecting a quick finish thereafter was mistaken as the two battled it out in the joint-longest European Tour play-off since its formation in 1972, matching an effort in the 1989 Dutch Open.

They exchanged pars on a further five holes, efforts that featured generally solid play interspersed with some outstanding up and downs.

However, Jacquelin made the decisive move when playing the 18th for the tenth time today – including on his original round – by hitting a wedge to five feet and holing the subsequent putt; the triumph was his first since winning the 2011 Sicilian Open.

“That is very tiring but I am really, really happy,” he said of the play-off which lasted over two hours.

“I could not make any putts (in the play-off) but the last one dropped, which means a lot for me and my family.”

He added, jokingly: “There’s another baby coming at the end of November; every time I get a baby, there’s a win so I’ll have a football team after a few years!”

Speaking about the precocious Kieffer, playing his just his tenth European Tour event, Jacquelin said: “He is starting this year very well. He is going to do very well and going to win a lot, I am sure.”

It was also a double-coup for the European Tour Properties Network, with Jacquelin the Touring Pro for Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort and Kieffer a representative of Land Fleesensee, both European Tour Destinations. 

Marc Warren had appeared in pole position for much of the final day at Valencia, yet bogeyed four of the last five holes to be leapfrogged by Aguilar, Jacquelin and Kieffer – who hit 70, 71 and 71 respectively.

Warren, whose last European Tour victory came at the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2007, was a picture of cool for much of the round - despite having a bad back - as he did just enough to keep his nose in front of the chasing pack.

Initially, it looked like a day of struggle might be in the offing as a dropped shot came on the second, yet he picked up a birdie at the par five next and showed impressive cool with an up and down saving par on five.

He did drop a shot on the next when an eight footer lipped out after his approach had gone through the green, but even then there was little hint of a struggle.

Back to back bogeys at 14 and 15, though, meant he was joined atop the leaderboard by Aguilar, who was sitting pretty in the clubhouse having completed a 70.

Three over for his round and having been caught for the first time, Warren produced a piece of magic on 16.

Having misjudged his approach, he delivered a perfect chip from the greenside bunker that bounced once on its way into the hole.

Even with the boost that provided, Warren could not stay in front as a three-putt on the next left him again level with Aguilar, Jacquelin - who had birdied the last - and Kieffer.

And further disappointment followed for the Scot as he missed out on the play-off after he three-putted again on the last.