Bjorn wins wild 5-man playoff at Gleneagles|
Perthshire, Scotland (Sports Network) - After bogeying the 17th hole to fall
out of the lead, it seemed that Thomas Bjorn's chances at winning the Johnny
Walker Championship at Gleneagles were slim.
But he waited in the clubhouse at 11-under 277, watched Mark Foster bogey the
72nd hole and then Bjorn emerged to win in a wild five-man playoff on the
fifth playoff hole.
In one of the biggest playoffs player-wise in European Tour history, Bjorn
finished with three straight birdies on the par-five 18th to beat out George
Coetzee, Foster, Pablo Larrazabal and Bernd Wiesberger for his 12th win on
"It was (special). I played nice this week; I didn't play my greatest, but I
played nice," Bjorn said. "When it came down to five guys in the playoff,
that's not seen very often. Maybe a little bit more relaxed in that scenario
because a lot of things have to go right for you."
The playoff at The Gleneagles Hotel featured a repeat performance on the 18th,
where Foster's slip-up in regulation gave hope to four other players.
Wiesberger was the first one out after an opening bogey, watching the other
four advance with matching pars. Larrazabal followed in Wiesberger's footsteps
on the next try at No. 18, bogeying the par five while Bjorn, Coetzee and
Foster all parred to keep moving.
Foster, who surrendered his third 54-hole lead of the year, survived the third
hole when all three players parred, but double-bogeyed the fourth and saw
Bjorn and Coetzee move on to the fifth and ultimately decisive extra hole.
"I've just got to keep going. The golf I'm playing is second to none, really,"
Both Bjorn and Coetzee found the rough off the tee on the fifth try at No. 18,
but Coetzee found himself with a steep downslope and had to chip to the
fairway. Bjorn, meanwhile, advanced up the fairway with his second shot and
used an eight-iron on his third to get within three feet of the pin.
"Thomas was flagging it," Coetzee said. "I think I did well. I stayed with it.
I'm quite happy with the way I handled it."
Coetzee was not as lucky, approaching to 40 feet with a six-iron. After
Coetzee's birdie putt went three feet past the hole, Bjorn sank his birdie
chance to win the tournament.
"I thought I needed something to go right today, and today I thought I played
fantastic," Bjorn said. "To birdie that hole three times in a row is pretty
Bjorn, 40, notched his second win of the season after February's Qatar Masters
and improved to 2-0 lifetime in playoffs.
Foster entered the day tied atop the leaderboard with Ignacio Garrido, and it
was his tournament to lose throughout the day.
With his eighth straight par following an eagle at the par-five second, Foster
stood at 13-under and held a three-shot lead, ominously reminiscent of his
collapse at the 2010 Open de Espana.
In Seville last year, Foster led by three heading into the final round, only
to shoot a closing two-over 74 and finish one shot behind winner Alvaro
Quiros. This time, however, Foster needed to hold on only for eight more
However, Foster was unable to come through.
His lead was quickly trimmed to two when Coetzee birdied the 15th, and it
became one with a bogey at the 12th -- his first of the day.
Bjorn, who entered the day three back, was the first to tie Foster atop the
leaderboard at 12-under with birdies at Nos. 14 and 16, but seemingly gave
away his chances at victory with a bogey at the 17th.
After Foster bogeyed the 12th, he had five straight pars to give himself a
chance at the elusive win if he were to par the 18th, a hole he birdied twice
in the first three rounds.
Foster, though, tripped to a bogey six to finish at even-par 72 for the day,
much to the delight of four other players who saw their hopes revived.
"I felt like I made a good swing off 18 the first time around," Foster
recalled. "It's a game of fractions. I just need a break."
Bjorn caught up with a three-under 69 on Sunday, while Coetzee shot the best
round of the day among the playoff participants with a five-under 67.
Larrazabal and Wiesberger also shot 69s.
Joel Sjoholm (68) and Stephen Gallacher (69) finished in a share of sixth at
10-under 278. Garrido closed with a two-over 74 to share eighth with Victor
Dubuisson (67) and Kenneth Ferrie (69) at minus-nine.
NOTES: The largest European Tour playoff involved six players and occurred
twice...This was the biggest playoff in this event's history, topping the
three players in 2007...Bjorn moved into 27th on the all-time European Tour
wins list...The European Tour heads to Switzerland next week for the Omega
European Masters, where Miguel Angel Jimenez won by three strokes over Edoardo
Molinari last year.
08/28 14:53:11 ET