Jin Jeong (Getty Images)
Jin Jeong fought back from a four-putt double bogey on his opening hole to overcome Ross Fisher in a play-off and land his first European Tour victory at the ISPS HANDA Perth International.
The 23 year old Korean started the day one behind home favourite Brody Ninyette, but made a nightmare start to his final round at Lake Karrinyup before recovering to shoot a three under par 69 and match Fisher’s ten under clubhouse target.
Birdies at the fourth and fifth atoned for Jeong’s early blunder, but it was only when Ninyette dropped his first shot of the day at the 13th that the Australian was caught.
Jeong made important clutch putts at the 16th and 17th as Ninyette’s challenge faded, but when Fisher hit his tee shot to within a foot at the 17th and birdied the two were tied and neither could birdie the last.
On their first return trip down the 18th Fisher caught a flyer with his approach and went through the green, leaving Jeong two putts to sew up the title.
“I was nervous, I was shaking but I controlled myself pretty well all day I thought,” said former Amateur Champion Jeong. “I don't know what I've done to be honest.
“I was struggling quite a bit when I was turning pro, but it was going to happen in the learning circuit I guess.
“I had played play-offs in mini tour events, but playing with Ross Fisher, he's one of my heroes. Playing with him in the play-off, it was unbelievable.”
Jeong, who has featured on The Challenge Tour this season, had recently progressed through the First Stage of The European Tour Qualifying School, but now earns a two-year exemption.
“I was going to go back to Q School Second Stage the week after next but I guess I don't have to anymore,” he added.
Western Australia native Ninyette had surged three clear early on after leading by one overnight, with birdies from three feet at the first and 25 feet at the fourth taking him into a commanding lead.
Fisher had pitched to three feet at the first and holed from 12 feet at the third for birdies, although he did hand a shot back at the fifth.
Jeong holed from 12 feet for birdie at the fourth and added an eight footer at the next to remain in the hunt, but at the turn there was little to suggest that Ninyette would be caught, and he strengthened his position by splashing out a greenside bunker to two feet at the long 11th for a birdie.
A wayward drive two holes later saw Ninyette make his first bogey of the day, and when he dropped further shots over the closing stretch Jeong – who had drawn level with birdies at the 11th and 12th – was able to take advantage with a gain at the long 15th.
Former Ryder Cup star Fisher matched Jeong’s gain at the 15th and forced extra holes with his tremendous tee shot at the 17th, but in the end had to console himself with a runner-up cheque that sees him climb into the top 60 of The Race to Dubai and should qualify him for the DP World Tour Championship.
“Obviously it would have been lovely to have come here and won, but that's golf,” said Fisher, who carded a closing 68.
“Unfortunately I came up a little bit short, but I can be very pleased the way I played today. I hung in there really well; it was always going to be tough.
“There are some good names up there and I knew I needed to just play really well. I felt like I did that.
“Hats off to Jin for winning his first professional tournament.
“I'm just pleased I'm knocking on the door and I know one of these days, it will come. The Race to Dubai, I've moved up; I should hope that's got me into next week in China.
“Good World Ranking points, so hopefully that might put me back in the top 100, so it's definitely a step in the right direction. I can't be too disappointed with finishing second.”
Ninyette’s closing 72 saw him tie for third with compatriot Dimitrios Papadatos and England’s Danny Willett.