England’s Danny Willett saw off Marcus Fraser of Australia on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the BMW International Open at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof in Germany.
In wet and windy conditions, Fraser posted a clubhouse total of 11-under-par with Willett also on that number, but still on the course with two holes to play. The 24-year-old dug deep and finished with two pars to match the Australian’s finishing score of 277.
On the 72nd hole of regulation play, it looked as though the Englishman would struggle to do that. He fanned his drive on the testing home hole to the right, it bounced off the cart path and ended close to a tree. But, from 210 yards out with water lurking short and left, Willett hit a bullet shot with a 3-iron that fizzed out from under the tree and ran up onto the putting surface.
On the first hole of the playoff, Willett once again went right from the tee. Again he used his 3-iron from an awkward position to get up to the greenside. Fraser had found the fairway from the tee but leaked his second shot slightly and ended on the far right side of the green. Willett played a superb pitch leaving just a tap-in for a par four. Fraser then left his approach putt well short and it looked as though he might gift the Englishman the win. But he composed himself to hole out and extend the playoff.
The pair headed back to the 18th tee three more times before the contest was settled. Eventually it was a missed par putt by Fraser that gave Willett the chance to claim his first European Tour title. He tapped in for a four and victory was his.
“It’s amazing,” said the former Walker Cup star. “It was a tough day – it was brutal with the wind whipping and it was raining. This week has been strange, I’ve been working really hard with support from my family and my girlfriend. I’ve had some ups and downs in the last 18 months as everyone knows, but I’m injury free now and back to playing well and I’d like to thank everyone back home for supporting me. I’ll keep working hard and hopefully we can do it again.”
Ireland’s Paul McGinley was clubhouse leader until Fraser came in. He posted a superb final round of 66 to finish on 10-under. It was a case of what might have been for the Irishman who was left to rue a disappointing third round of 77. His score of 278 was matched by Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Chris Wood, but was eventually superseded by Fraser and Willett.
Germany’s Marcel Siem entertained the home fans with an extraordinary roller-coast round. He opened with three birdies, then dropped five shots in the space of three holes between the 7th and the 10th. But he struck back with three birdies on the back nine. On the 18th green he had a putt to finish 11-under, but he raced it past and missed the one coming back.
BMW International Open
Golf Club Gut Larchenhof, Cologne, Germany
21-24 Jun, purse €2,000,000, par 72
1 Danny Willett (Eng) 65 70 69 73 277 €333,330
2 Marcus Fraser (Aus) 64 74 68 71 277 €222,220
T3 Gonzalo Fdz-Castano (Esp) 71 69 69 69 278 €103,333
T3 Paul McGinley (Ire) 65 70 77 66 278 €103,333
T3 Chris Wood (Eng) 65 70 70 73 278 €103,333
T6 Marcel Siem (Ger) 68 71 68 72 279 €65,000
T6 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 68 71 70 279 €65,000
T8 Thomas Bjorn (Den) 69 70 70 71 280 €42,900
T8 Ross Fisher (Eng) 70 70 70 70 280 €42,900
T8 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 70 71 68 71 280 €42,900
T8 Joel Sjoholm (Swe) 67 66 72 75 280 €42,900
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
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