Play-off heartbreak for Maybin in South Africa

 

Golf:Gareth Maybin suffered play-off heartbreak at the South African Open as local favourite Richard Sterne made it back-to-back European Tour victories by taking the title on the first extra hole at Pearl Valley.

The Northern Ireland golfer had a chance to win the trophy in the last hole of regulation play, only for his eight-foot birdie putt to lip out as he finished with a two-under par final round of 70.

That miss gave Sterne, winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship last week, his chance after he had earlier carded a brilliant six-under par 66 to move to 14-under.

The players went back down the par-five 18th, with Maybin winning the toss and driving off. The Ballyclare golfer found sand, while Sterne landed safely in the middle of the fairway.

Faced with a steep lip on the bunker, Maybin was forced to lay up with his second, while Sterne was pin high but off the green to the right.

Maybin's approach to 12 feet kept his chances alive, only for Sterne to stiff his third shot to two feet.

When Maybin's birdie putt slid by the hole, Sterne had the simplest of tasks in claiming the €158,500 first prize.

It was still a remarkable performance from 28-year-old Maybin in just his seventh start on the European Tour. He pocketed €115,000 for his efforts and moves into 11th place in the Race to Dubai table.

The former Irish World Cup player moved to the top of the leaderboard after nine holes thanks to a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth hole.

He had earlier birdied the third before giving the shot straight back at the fourth. Another dropped shot at the eight brought him back to 14-under before he showed remarkable poise down the closing stretch.

Playing in the last group with overnight leader Lee Westwood, Maybin fired nine straight pars coming home, but was left to rue the missed birdie on 18 after his approach found the bunker.

Reflecting on the putt, Maybin said: "I just couldn't keep it straight to be honest. I had a reasonable putt, but just lagged it a little bit.

"Obviously I just came up a little short, but all in all I'm very happy with myself and the way I held up."

Rory McIlroy recovered from a horrendous start to his round to finish in a tie for third spot on 13-under, a result that will move him up the world rankings and guarantee him a place at the Masters in April.

The Holywood teenager suffered a nightmare beginning with double-bogeys at the opening two holes. But he would get back on track in spectacular style after a birdie on seven was followed by an eagle two at the ninth where he holed his approach from the right rough.

A birdie on ten would bring him back to level for his round and 11-under for the tournament.

He would get within two of the leaders after a birdie on the 12th and made it to the 600-yard 18th needing an eagle to force his way into the play-off.

A booming drive left him a mid-iron to the green and he gave himself every chance when his ball found the centre of the putting surface. But McIlroy's eagle attempt stayed out as he finished with a two-under 70 to join Ernie Els and Westwood on 13-under.

A delighted McIlroy is looking forward to his first trip to Augusta.

 "It's obviously very nice (to be playing in the Masters). It's been an absolutely great year and to get to play at Augusta in my second season, making the top 50 in the world and staying there, I had to go out this week and I played pretty well and I did that. I'm over the moon."

Els had earlier set the pace with a stunning closing round of eight-under 64, but Westwood saw his challenge fall apart after he took 39 shots to cover the front nine holes before finishing with a 73.

Michael Hoey finished in a tie for 11th spot after carding a three-under 69 to finish on 10-under. Damien McGrane was a shot further back after a 73, while Gary Murphy finished on eight-under after a 70.

Darren Clarke's challenge fell away on the final day, a closing 78 leaving him on two-under for the tournament.

SCOREBOARD
(Ireland and Britain unless stated, Par 72)
274
Richard Sterne (Rsa) 72 69 67 66, Gareth Maybin 66 69 69 70(Sterne won at the first extra play-off hole),
275 Rory McIlroy 70 68 67 70, Ernie Els (Rsa) 67 67 77 64, Lee Westwood 66 68 68 73
276Chris Wood 68 69 71 68, Richard Finch 69 70 71 66, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 70 66 69 71, Branden Grace (Rsa) 69 67 73 67
277Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69 71 70 67
278Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 66 71 74 67, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 64 72 73 69, Michael Hoey 70 66 73 69
279Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 67 65 72 75, Damien McGrane 70 64 72 73, Ake Nilsson (Rsa) 66 72 72 69, David Frost (Rsa) 68 72 71 68, Ross McGowan 66 70 71 72
280Martin Wiegele (Aut) 69 68 74 69, Peter Hanson (Swe) 74 68 70 68, Jarmo Sandelin (Swe) 72 70 68 70, David Horsey 70 65 76 69, Gary Murphy 72 71 67 70, Oskar Henningsson (Swe) 65 74 71 70, George Coetzee (Rsa) 69 68 68 75
281John Mellor 70 68 71 72, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 71 64 75 71, Richie Ramsay 66 72 75 68, Garth Mulroy (Rsa) 70 71 69 71, Len Mattiace (USA) 70 66 71 74
282Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 69 65 78 70, Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa) 66 71 71 74, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 67 74 71 70
283David Drysdale 74 68 70 71, Callum McCaulay 71 69 74 69, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 71 69 73
284Hennie Otto (Rsa) 68 72 72 72, Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 70 68 72 74, Simon Dyson 67 73 68 76, Magnus A Carlsson (Swe) 70 70 72 72, Gary Lockerbie 72 69 69 74, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 68 74 66 76, Christiaan Basson (Rsa) 73 69 71 71, Michael Jonzon (Swe) 70 70 73 71, Carlos Del Moral (Spa) 69 68 77 70, Tim Clark (Rsa) 67 73 70 74
285Martin Erlandsson (Swe) 74 69 68 74, Estanislao Goya (Arg) 70 72 74 69, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 72 69 65 79, Trevor Fisher Jnr (Rsa) 72 67 71 75
286Lee Slattery 68 72 71 75, Keith Horne (Rsa) 66 70 74 76, Tyrone Van Aswegen (Rsa) 72 71 70 73, Darren Clarke 74 67 67 78, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 69 74 71 72, Johan Edfors (Swe) 72 70 70 74
287Alan McLean 71 72 73 71, Dion Fourie (Rsa) 70 71 70 76, Peter Karmis (Rsa) 69 71 74 73
288Patrik Sjoland (Swe) 72 69 73 74, Justin Rose 69 74 71 74
289Adrian Ford (Rsa) 70 71 75 73, Andrew Coltart 71 72 67 79, Ariel Canete (Arg) 73 70 72 74
290Birgir Hafthorsson (Ice) 71 72 74 73, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 69 73 67 81, Pelle Edberg (Swe) 71 71 69 79, Jake Roos (Rsa) 70 70 74 76, Wil Besseling (Ned) 75 68 73 74, Marco Ruiz (Par) 69 73 73 75, Antti Ahokas (Fin) 71 69 79 71, Tyrone Ferreira (Rsa) 74 69 73 74
291Steve Basson (Rsa) 72 71 74 74
292Jeppe Huldahl (Den) 69 71 73 79
293Albert Pistorius (Rsa) 68 75 76 74
294Merrick Bremner (Rsa) 71 69 71 83