Bernd Wiesberger Overcomes Tommy Fleetwood in China
Post by Golf Writer Kieran Clark
Bernd Wiesberger converted an impressive sequence of results into victory on the European Tour after overcoming in-form Tommy Fleetwood in a sudden-death playoff to win the Shenzhen International in China.
The 26-year-old Englishman – who picked up a huge title in Abu Dhabi earlier this year – had produced a stunning final round of 63 to edge into contention for another triumph in 2017, but was denied by the powerful Austrian who enjoyed a moment of magic on the difficult 18th to secure his fourth success on the circuit, two seasons removed from his last at the Open de France.
Faced with the hardest hole in the course, the two protagonists were plunged into a playoff after tying on 16-under after four rounds, and it was the 31-year-old from Vienna who narrowly escaped a watery fate with his tee shot lying precariously on the bank. Facing an awkward stance, the eventual winner played a remarkable shot to within five-feet of the hole, with the subsequent birdie putt being holed to seal the prize at Genzon Golf Club.
It wouldn’t have come as a shock to see the Under-Armour ambassador cross the line on tour, with his form in recent months having been consistently excellent – racking up the cash on the money list. He hasn’t missed a cut since last August’s PGA Championship, and recorded high finishes at the KLM Open (runner-up), Porsche European Open (fifth), Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (T7th), British Masters (runner-up), Turkish Airlines Open (fourth), DP World Tour Championship (T4th), and the Maybank Championship (third).
"I'm feeling a bit relieved now I have to say," said Wiesberger. "I've had a stretch of really good events the last couple of months and it's really nice to have a trophy again.
"We have really good players out here, all up for it, playing well and throwing a lot at me. At the end of the day I'm just glad I got myself into the spot where I could play for the title.
"Tommy has had a great day today and I'm just grateful to make that one shot when I needed to.
"I just wanted to get off to a good start and show them that I'm up for it and I did, scrapped around a little bit, had a couple of near misses with good looks at it early on. It could have gotten to me but I stayed calm, played on decently."
Tommy Fleetwood's ball-striking last week ????— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 24, 2017
297 yard average drive (9th in field)
84% fairways (3rd in field)
90% greens (1st in field) pic.twitter.com/ofT1oCBfI7
The aforementioned man from Southport has also been enjoying a surge in 2017, and he was delighted with his final round. "I've played well all week and I was really disappointed, it was stressing me out that I couldn't really get anything in the hole," said Fleetwood.
"Today, just a few putts went in and I kept it going all the way through and it was a good time to shoot a 63.
"As a goal, I wanted to be one under for every three holes, that was 66 and if I beat that I thought I'll have a had a good day and a good week."
Respect. ? pic.twitter.com/gnpKlTAmai— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 23, 2017
IT HAD BEEN a long time coming – 180 events to be precise – but Kevin Chappell is finally a winner on the PGA Tour after succeeding at the Valero Texas Open, making birdie on the 72nd hole to finish one-shot ahead of compatriot Brooks Koepka at the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio.
His reaction was thrilling, a combination of delight and relief, mixed in with the satisfaction that he had crossed the line in an event after several near-misses in his career. The first of those had ironically came in this event six years ago, when he finished runner-up to Brendan Steele.
There would be another second-place two years later, this time behind Matt Kuchar at the Memorial Tournament in 2013, but the real heartache came last season, when he was a four-time runner-up on the tour, including at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship and Tour Championship. Such a run could have affected his psyche, but he overcame all that baggage in Texas.
“I felt like I had some unfinished business here,” Chappell said to PGA Tour.Com. “… A lot of hard work went into this, and I don’t think I would have had it any other way.
“Those people that know me [know] I do everything the hard way – and 180 starts later, that’s pretty hard.”
But with that first title under his belt, he will no longer have to hear about the fact that he hadn’t won. “I don’t have to answer that question anymore,” Chappell added. “Feel like I have a base to kind of jump off from with my career moving forward.”
Elsewhere, perhaps the biggest story of the week was that of Ian Poulter, who missed the cut and consequently failed to retain his PGA Tour card. The 41-year-old was playing on a medical exemption and required around $24,000 – the equivalent of a top 30 finish – to maintain his status, but will understandably be reeling from the disappointment, though he was practical when looking ahead, stating his intention to play more events in Europe and in America through invitations.
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