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Comeback king Marcel Siem takes title in Italy

Comeback king Marcel Siem takes title in Italy

Marcel Siem confirmed his status as the DP World Tour's comeback king with a play-off victory over Tom McKibbin that handed him a sixth Tour title at the Italian Open presented by Regione Emilia-Romagna.

The German was playing just his fourth event back after hip surgery in February and admitted after round three that he felt like an 80-year-old teeing it up at last month's Soudal Open.

He looked in fine fettle as he entered the final day at Adriatic Golf Club Cervia and was three shots ahead of clubhouse leader McKibbin - who had set the target at ten under with a bogey-free 65 - after eight holes.

Four bogeys on the back nine, however, saw him one behind the Northern Irishman stood on the 18th tee and he had to come back again, holing a clutch 22-footer to take us to extra holes with a closing 71.

Both players found the fairway off the tee and hit excellent approaches into the 18th green but while McKibbin missed his birdie chance from around 12 feet, Siem made his from slightly closer range to bring a huge, fist-pumping celebration.

McKibbin has the consolation of earning a place at The Open Championship along with American Sean Crocker who finished a shot out of the play-off, with Siem already exempt for the season's final Major.

Crocker carded a 68 to sit alongside German Jannik de Bruyn, who took one shot more to get to nine under.

Siem won his first DP World Tour title over 20 years ago and when he won his fourth en route to finishing seventh on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex in 2014, he had the world at his feet.

But he lost his card for the 2021 season and went to the European Challenge Tour, where he would play 13 weeks in a row, ending with a victory at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge that earned him a place at The Open.

He would lose his card again in 2022 but won it straight back at the Qualifying School and in 2023 claimed an emotional first DP World Tour win in over eight years at the Hero Indian Open.

He has again overcome adversity in more ways than one this week and the 43-year-old admits it is a career highlight.

"Holing that putt on 18 was one the coolest moments in golf for me and doing it again in a play-off was fantastic," he said.

"I love this sport and these moments, I work really hard for them. When you get rewarded like this, it’s a very special moment. I think it’s the second oldest trophy on mainland Europe. So I’ve got the French Open and this one now, I’m so proud of that. My journey is just beginning, it feels like.

"My big goal is to get in the Ryder Cup once. I’ve never played the Ryder Cup or the Masters. These are the two big goals for me and whatever happens on the way there, I’ll take it and keep working even harder. I’m just loving it. I love my life at the moment. It’s great."

Overnight leader Siem found rough on the third but left himself nine feet for birdie and then holed a lengthy right-to-lefter on the fourth to sit two ahead alongside playing partner Antoine Rozner, who had also birdied the third and fourth.

A stunning tee-shot to five feet at the eighth edged Siem ahead at 13 under but he then found two nasty lies on the 11th to drop back into a share and a brilliant pitch into the par-five 12th helped put Rozner back ahead.

But the Frenchman would then see his chances fall away as he dropped five shots in as many holes and Siem was also struggling on the way home.

He dropped a shot after finding a plugged lie on the 14th and when he found sand again at the 15th and went over the green, he was in a share for the lead with McKibbin.

The 21-year-old had left himself a tap-in at the fourth despite a ragged tee-shot and holed a long putt on the fifth before leaving himself another short one at the 11th.

He then got up and down from the sand at the 12th and made a two-putt on the 15th to take advantage of the two par fives, with a 13-footer at the next seeing him get to double figures and set the target.

Another missed green at the 17th saw Siem drop a shot behind but he held his nerve to produce his late heroics and take the trophy.

Rozner finished at eight under after a 73 alongside Spaniard Adri Arnaus, American James Nicholas, Italian Andrea Pavan and India's Shubhankar Sharma.