Eagle secures play-off victory for Rumford
Australian recovers poise to claim fourth European Tour title
Brett Rumford of Australia celebrates after holing an eagle putt at the first play-off hole to win the Ballantine’s Championship at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, South Korea. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Rumford rifled a long iron to four feet at the par-five 18th in the sudden death shoot-out and he confidently rolled in the putt to seal a fourth European Tour title and first for six years.
“I’m really pleased with the result and I owe a lot to Ronnie my caddy and I’ve got a great team around me,” said Rumford.
The Australia had looked set to win the €2.2 million event in regulation after six birdies on the front nine helped him to a two-shot lead from Fraser and Whiteford standing on the 17th tee.
But the 36-year-old Australian notched a double-bogey six on the hole after driving into a bush and taking a penalty drop.
That mistake pushed him back to 11 under for the tournament and he needed to roll in an eight foot putt on the 18th to save par after another wayward drive to finish with a four-under-par round of 68 and a 277 total.
Playing partner Fraser matched his 68 and came close to moving into the lead when he narrowly missed a 20-feet birdie effort on the last before Rumford’s putt.
That left Whiteford (69) in the final group needing to birdie the 543-yard hole to seal a first European Tour title but the Scot produced a nervous chip with his third shot from the edge of the green and then pushed his five-foot putt to win wide of the cup.
Before embarking on the play-off, Rumford called coach Pete Cowan for some advice on how to fix his driving.
“A lot of thanks go to Pete,” the Australian said. “I battled with my driver constantly and I guess that’s what keeps me out of most golf tournaments.
“I left a few drives right – it wasn’t just the last two drives, it was the whole back nine I was feeling stuck and a little bit trapped – had a quick word with Pete and hit a five or six balls off the first tee and it obviously did the trick.”
All three found the 18th fairway with their drives in the play-off but Whiteford again went right with his second, while Fraser sent his approach over the back of the green, leaving the flag open for Rumford.
His superb approach pitching short of the flag before rolling up just a couple of feet behind the cup and he kept his composure as Whiteford made birdie and Fraser chipped up close to the flag with his third.
Frenchman Romain Wattel had a final round 69 to finish fourth, two off the play-off, while South African world number seven Louis Oosthuizen (69) was a further shot back.
Overnight leader Alex Noren suffered a penalty shot at the second when his ball moved a fraction as he addressed his par putt, but also double-bogeyed the 10th and 13th to drop out of contention.
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley fired six birdies in a final-round 68 that saw him finish the week on two under. Fellow Dubliner Peter Lawrie ended on the same mark after a 71, with Damien McGrane a shot further back after a closing 74.