LONDON: Austrian Bernd Wiesberger made hard work of it but eventually won the Scottish Open when he beat Benjamin Hebert in a play-off in North Berwick on Sunday.
After sinking a six-foot par clutch putt at the final hole of regulation to force the playoff, Wiesberger clinched victory at the third extra hole with another par at the par-four 18th at the Renaissance Club.
Frenchman Hebert, without a European Tour victory, came close to pulling off a stunning upset when he surged from seven strokes behind in the final round, shooting nine-under-par 62.
But his nerves betrayed him in the playoff as he three-putted twice.
After missing a putt from barely four feet that would have won it at the second extra hole, Hebert was wide again from not much longer at the next, which proved the nail in the coffin.
Wiesberger had shot a closing 69 to match Hebert at 22-under 262, two strokes clear of Frenchman Romain Langasque, to force the play-off.
Though Hebert fell short, he got the consolation prize of a spot in the British Open which starts at Royal Portrush on Thursday.
Wiesberger, already exempt for the final major of the year, exuded a look of relief rather than excitement after holing out from four feet for his sixth victory on the European Tour, and his second of the season.
“It was a long day but somehow I managed,” he was quoted as saying on the European Tour website.
“I would have loved to seal it with a couple of pars coming in but sometimes it just tests you. I’m very grateful for how it turned out.”
The result moved 33-year-old Wiesberger atop the tour’s season-long Race to Dubai rankings, and he will jump into the top 50 in the world rankings.
“Being in places where you have no control over what is going to happen next all of last year makes it just a lot sweeter and you appreciate it a lot more,” he said.
Englishman Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson and Italian Nino Bertasio, who tied for fourth on 19-under, also earned places in the British Open as previously non-exempt players.
Rory McIlroy closed out a quiet week with a 69 that left him equal 34th, nine strokes off the pace.
Though he never quite fired on all cylinders, the Northern Irishman broke 70 in every round in a solid tune-up for Portrush. — Reuters