Thomas Björn came through a five-man playoff to win the Johnnie Walker Championship over the Centenary Course at Gleneagles. It was the Dane’s second European Tour victory of 2011.
After a testing final day around the Centenary Course five men were tied on a four-round total of 11-under-par. First to post that number was George Coetzee of South Africa who closed with a 67. He was matched by Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, Pablo Larrazabal of Spain, Thomas Björn and finally Mark Foster of England.
Foster, who shared the lead with Ignacio Garrido going into the final round, could have won the tournament outright. He needed just a par at the 72nd hole to win the title in regulation play. But his drive at the par-5 found the trees on the right and, after hacking out, he could only make a bogey six.
So, the five players made their way back to the 18th tee to decide the competition in overtime. Wiesberger was the first to fall as he made a bogey six on the first extra hole. Pablo Larrazabal went at the next as he too made a bogey.
The remaining three players all scored a birdie on the third extra time up the 18th, but Foster dropped out at the fourth extra hole as he was unable to match the birdies of Björn and Coetzee.
It was the Dane who eventually prevailed on the fifth extra hole. He fired in yet another sublime approach to guarantee a third straight birdie and, when Coetzee missed his long birdie effort, Björn was left with a tap-in for his second European Tour title of 2011. The 40-year-old also picked up the Qatar Masters in February. He has now moved to eigth place in the Race to Dubai.
“The way I played those last playoff holes, I’m very proud,” he said. “I had to dig pretty deep.”
Although disappointed to fall at the final hurdle, Coetzee was pleased with his performance.
“I think I did well. I stayed with it. I’m quite happy with the way I handled it,” he said. “I’ll take second place, it’s an improvement on my best finish. Next time I’ll go one better. Hopefully.”
Johnnie Walker Championship
The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
Aug 25-28, purse £1,400,000, par 72
1 Thomas Björn (Den) 68 69 71 69 277 €266,629
T2 George Coetzee (RSA) 77 66 67 67 277 €106,429
T2 Mark Foster (Eng) 66 71 68 72 277 €106,429
T2 Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 70 68 70 69 277 €106,429
T2 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 69 71 68 69 277 €106,429
T6 Joes Sjoholm (Swe) 70 71 69 68 278 €51,993
T6 Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 74 68 67 69 278 €51,993
T8 Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 69 70 73 67 279 €35,942
T8 Kenneth Ferrie (Eng) 68 69 73 69 279 €35,942
T8 Ignacio Garrido (Esp) 67 69 69 74 279 €35,942
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only
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