Lundberg takes title in dramatic play-off
Swede sinks 40ft birdie putt to deny Bernd Wiesberger victory in Lyoness Open
Mikael Lundberg of Sweden celebrates after holing a putt in a play-off during the Lyoness Open day four at the Diamond Country Club yesterday in Atzenbrugg, Austria. Photograph: Paul Thomas/Getty Images
Lundberg and Wiesberger finished tied on 12 under par at the Diamond Country Club after Lundberg’s closing 65 and Wiesberger returned a 69, crucially letting slip a one-shot lead with three holes to play.
The pair returned to the par-three 18th for the first extra hole and it was advantage Wiesberger after their respective tee shots, only for Lundberg to hole from 45ft for an unlikely birdie. Wiesberger was unable to match it from 18ft and was therefore left with an anxious wait to see if he had done enough to move inside the top 60 in the world rankings to qualify for his US Open debut. A victory would have guaranteed his place at Pinehurst, but the 28-year-old was left to rely on results in the FedEx St Jude Classic on the PGA Tour.
Simon Thornton was the best of the Irish with a final round 72 giving him a share of 14th place overall and €14,700 in prize money. Ruairí McGee’s challenge faded as a 75 left him 25th overall while Michael Hoey shot a 72 left him two over par.
Crestfallen Wiesberger “I was happy to take the lead and I had it in my hands, I threw it away a little bit,” said Wiesberger, who won the title in 2012. “I hit five bad shots on the 16th which cost me. I hit a better shot in the play-off but he made a great putt
. . . But I lost it a bit. I would have taken getting into a play-off at the beginning of the day, but it’s a bit cruel now.”
Wiesberger had put all his eggs in one basket by not playing the US Open qualifier at Walton Heath and missing last week’s Nordea Masters, but added: “It would be nice to get a chance to play the US Open and if I get there I will be in good form as well.”
Lundberg had held the halfway lead after rounds of 67 and 68, but a 76 on Saturday left him six shots behind defending champion Joost Luiten starting the final round. The 40-year-old got off to a flying start with four birdies in his first five holes and after a bogey on the eighth, carded four more in five holes from the 11th to set the clubhouse target.
“Today just started off really well on the first couple of holes. I made some really nice putts that changed the whole attitude,” said Lundberg, whose previous European Tour wins came in Russia in 2005 and 2008.”
Relieved and happy He added: “As for the play-off, what can I say
? . . . To hole that putt was fantastic. I tried not to look at the leaderboards and do my thing because they are great players and they had some par fives coming up which I thought they would birdie, so I just tried to put a good number out there and hopefully it was going to take me somewhere close. It’s fantastic considering I’ve had to go back to the tour school the last four years.”
Luiten’s two-shot overnight lead had disappeared within two holes as Wiesberger opened with a birdie and Luiten bogeyed the second, with the pair locked together as they entered the back nine. Birdies on the 10th, 13th and 15th looked to have given Wiesberger the decisive advantage, but he made a mess of the par-five 16th and was lucky to escape with a wild drive on the 17th, which ended on the adjacent 10th fairway.
Luiten was unable to find a birdie on the last three holes to join the play-off, a disappointing round of 72 leaving the Ryder Cup hopeful alone in third, one shot ahead of England’s Lee Slattery. “I didn’t play great . . . It was one of those days,” said Luiten. “If you are two clear you want to win and finish it off.”