England’s Anthony Wall beat Alex Noren of Sweden by one hole to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Paul Lawrie Match Play at Archerfield in East Lothian.
Anthony Wall last won on the European Tour back in 2000 – the Alfred Dunhill Championship. He has played in 431 events since then before recording this, his second victory on the circuit. Wall’s wait for a second win is the longest in European Tour history, surpassing the previous high of 276 set by Christy O’Connor Jnr.
Wall recovered from a sluggish start in the final at Archerfield and eventually secured a one-up win over favourite Alex Noren. The Swede narrowly missed out on a Scottish double, following his victory in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart last month.
Noren was a combined 19-under-par for the front nine over the first five rounds and made another flying start in the final. Wall drove into trees at the 1st and Noren took full advantage with a birdie from 10-feet. It was Noren, a five-time European Tour winner, who was wayward off the 2nd tee as he pulled his effort into the forest down the left.
Alex Noren fairway bunker tips:
However, having been forced to chip out backwards, he played a remarkable third to the green on the par five and sunk his putt for another birdie.
At two-down Wall might have been feeling his long wait for a second trophy would continue, but he responded immediately with a winning birdie on the 3rd and squared the contest with a gain at the long 6th, as Noren missed the fairway and played a poor third shot.
41-year-old Wall took advantage of the par-5 11th and a birdie there put him one-up. He scrambled superbly from sand at the 12th and 14th to maintain his lead. Both players got up and down for birdie at the driveable 16th, and at the short 17th Noren saw his birdie effort lip out as Wall kept his nose in front.
Wall made par at the long finishing hole, leaving Noren an opportunity to send the contest into extra holes, but the Swede missed from 15 feet and Wall had his victory.
“It’s funny – the other win in 2000 felt like yesterday! It’s amazing because it’s such a hard job to beat everyone because everyone is so good. It just feels amazing – I cannot tell you how happy I am,” he said. “I did wonder whether it would ever come again. I’m just so pleased for my parents – they put in so much when I was young. I’ve got two children that just want to see their dad win, I’m speechless, it’s phenomenal.”
England’s James Morrison won the third-place play-off 4&2 against compatriot Oliver Fisher after starting with a run of birdie, eagle, birdie to establish a lead he never relinquished.
Tournament host Paul Lawrie was delighted with how the tournament panned out and is positive about the future of the event:
“It’s been an excellent event. The feedback again from the players, like it was last year, was that they love the format. They love the idea of a straight knockout. The venue couldn’t be any better for us. Delighted with how it’s come across and how it’s played,” he said.
“This is only our second year, so we are learning, as well as everyone else is. But I think it’s been absolutely brilliant. We’ve got one more year on our contract with The European Tour, but we see don’t see this stopping or being a short-term thing. Obviously we have to sit down and debrief with everyone on how things have gone so we can learn on things again to hopefully progress further.”