Hat-trick of birdies helps Bourdy to Wales Open title
Frenchman pips American Peter Uihlein at Celtic Manor
France’s Gregory Bourdy celebrates a birdie on the 18th to win the Wales Open at Celtic Manor. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA.
France’s Gregory Bourdy set his sights on a Ryder Cup place after producing a stunning closing hat-trick of birdies to win the first qualifying event at the Wales Open on Sunday.
Bourdy birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th at Celtic Manor to deny Peter Uihlein his second win of the season, the American finishing two behind due to a bogey on the last as he tried to find the birdie needed to force a play-off.
“It’s one of my big goals and dreams to be in the Ryder Cup,” Bourdy said after a closing 67 which also featured a holed bunker shot for an eagle on the second. “But I didn’t realise the points started this week until after my first round.
“I’ve been playing golf since I was three years old and it’s always been my dream to win Majors and be in the Ryder Cup, especially in France in 2018.
“Now I have a chance to make the next one but there are a lot of tournaments to play. It’s a great start but I will need to play very well because there are so many great players in Europe and it’s going to be tough as usual to be in the team.”
Uihlein began the day three shots clear of Bourdy and Thomas Levet, but after a birdie at the second he pulled his tee-shot into a water hazard on the third and had to hole from 30 feet just to salvage a bogey.
Another bogey followed on the next and with Bourdy having already eagled the par-five second, the pair were tied on six under.
Bourdy then led by two when he birdied the 11th as Uihlein bogeyed the 10th, but Uihlein regained the upper hand when Bourdy bogeyed the 13th and 14th — due to a three-putt and then driving into the water — a birdie on the 15th taking him back into the lead.
However, Bourdy then holed a curling 40 feet birdie putt on the 16th and another from 12 feet on the 17th to reclaim the lead, only for Uihlein to respond with a lengthy birdie putt of his own on the 17th.
Another birdie looked unlikely on the par-five 18th when Bourdy’s approach came up 30 feet short of the hole, but the 31-year-old promptly holed that putt as well to finish eight under par.
Watching from the fairway behind, Uihlein knew he now needed to match that birdie to force a play-off, but charged his putt six feet past the hole and missed the return.
He still finished in outright second on six under, with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen a shot further back after a closing 66 marred only by a bogey on the 18th.
“It’s amazing,” added Bourdy, whose last tour win came in Hong Kong in 2009. “It’s a tough, tough, finish, one of the toughest on tour with this wind and it means a lot.
“I’ve won three tournaments on tour but never finished like this. I’m very happy. I went back to my old grip and putter this week and putted really well, although I didn’t hole many putts today until the 16th.”
Despite letting slip a three-shot lead, Uihlein paid tribute to Bourdy, adding: “He earned it the last three holes and hats off to him. It was a tough day and he played fantastic.”
The 24-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, added: “At the end of the day I put myself in with a chance. I wasn’t really that sharp today. I felt like I did all right. Soren played great and Bourdy played great as well, so what are you going to do.”
Kjeldsen, who started the day seven behind Uihlein, had looked like setting a testing clubhouse target in the windy conditions when he reached six under with one to play, but failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the 18th after attacking the flag.
“I was trying to hit it close,” he admitted. “I felt very comfortable over the shot and see myself as a good wedge player so I was trying to hit it stiff.”
Damien McGrane closed with a level-par 71 to finish in a tie for sixth place on two under, with Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley carding a 67 to end the week on one under.
David Higgins finished on two over after a 71, while Gareth Maybin ended up on seven over after a 72.