European Masters proves a boon for Bjorn
Crans Montana, Switzerland (Sports Network) - Thomas Bjorn birdied the first playoff hole on Sunday to defeat Craig Lee and win the European Masters for the second time.
Bjorn, who earned his 14th European Tour victory and first since capturing this title in 2011, fired a 6-under-par 65 to overcome a 2-stroke overnight deficit and meet Lee at 20-under 264 after 72 holes.
"I came in this week not playing particularly great but promised myself I'd stick to how I play this golf course," said Bjorn.
Lee appeared poised to secure his first career European Tour win after Saturday's course-record 61, but the Scotsman couldn't retain his overnight advantage, shooting 4-under 67 in the final round and parring the playoff hole.
Victor Dubuisson grabbed solo third at 19-under 265 with his second straight 66, while Alejandro Canizares carded a final-round 67 and placed fourth at minus-18.
Miguel Angel Jimenez shot 67 at Crans-sur-Sierre and tied for fifth in his 25th consecutive European Masters appearance. The Spaniard finished alongside Ross Fisher (66) at 15-under 269.
Lee opened with a birdie, but parred his next 10 holes, allowing a scorching Bjorn to move ahead by a pair, as the 42-year-old notched five birdies during a dazzling, outward 31.
Bjorn cooled around the turn with five straight pars, and Lee fought back, tallying three birdies in a four-hole span from the 12th to leap in front at 20-under.
Playing a group behind, Bjorn steadily matched Lee's birdie at the 15th to square the match, and both golfers parred out to set up the playoff.
There, Lee found a fairway bunker off the tee, while Bjorn was safe in the first cut.
A deft recovery from the sand left Lee 20 feet from the cup, just outside of Bjorn's ball. But Lee needed two putts from there, and Bjorn cooly drained his birdie effort to seal another European Masters victory.
"It was nice to do that in a playoff," said Bjorn. "I've had a hard time dealing with pressure situations and there is no more pressure than that."
NOTES: Bjorn played 47 European Tour events between victories ... This is the second event Bjorn has won twice, the other being the BMW International Open in 2000 and 2002 ... Bjorn improved to 3-2 in five European Tour playoffs. This was Lee's first playoff appearance on tour ... This was the ninth playoff of the European Tour season.
09/08 12:38:14 ET