Lucas Bjerregard Takes Advantage of Hatton’s Slip to Win at St Andrews
TYRRELL HATTON came up a shot short in his attempt to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for an unprecedented third year on the trot as Lucas Bjerregaard produced a brilliant round of 67 on the Old Course at St Andrews to win his second European Tour title.
The Dane started the day four behind Hatton and was trailing by six with 12 holes to play as the Englishman looked set to make European Tour history and become just the fifth player to win the same event in three consecutive seasons.
However, the wheels came off for Hatton on the back nine, and Bjerregaard kept his nerve to get to 15 under and take the title by one shot. Hatton finished second alongside fellow Ryder Cup winner Tommy Fleetwood, with Finn Tapio Pulkkanen at 12 under.
Since graduating from qualifying school in 2013, Bjerregaard has never finished lower than 90th in the Race to Dubai Rankings. He won the Portugal Masters in 2017 to go with the GolfSixes title alongside Thorbjørn Olesen. He has enjoyed some remarkably consistent form in 2018, reeling off three consecutive top-10 finishes before finishing in the top 20 while defending the Portugal Masters, and he has now moved into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai.
"I'm getting a little emotional,” he said. “It's been a great year and now it's just a whole lot better. It didn't really look like I was ever in it today, it looked like Tyrrell was going to take off with it. I was trucking away at it. I've been playing well for a little while and I played really well today and I'm really pleased that it was enough.”
Hatton looked certain to join Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els with wins in the same event in three consecutive seasons when he went out in 32 but he came home in 40 to sign for a level par 72. Race to Dubai champion Fleetwood made four birdies and a bogey in a closing 69 on a windy and at times very wet final day.
With strong wind forecast, the players began in an early-morning shotgun start, with the leading two groups overnight going off the first just after 8.30am.
Fleetwood was the first of the leading group to make a move with a birdie at the second, while Bjerregarrd birdied his first hole after starting on the 18th to get within three.
Hatton birdied the third before a Fleetwood birdie on the fourth kept him within two but he was not there for long as Hatton found another gear. He holed a 20-footer on the fourth and while Bjerregaard made a long putt of his own on the same hole, Hatton got on the par five fifth in two for his birdie and an approach to eight feet on the sixth gave him a fourth birdie in a row and a four-shot lead.
That lead soon became five but Bjerregaard holed long putts on the sixth and eighth and Fleetwood made a 12-footer on the 11th to cut it back to four. Bunker trouble on the 10th and a three-putt from Hatton on the next saw the lead down to two and a 20-foot putt on the 13th from Bjerregaard meant it was just one shot. By now, Hatton was beginning to get seriously hot under the collar as he realised he was in danger of throwing away the title.
Fleetwood dropped a shot on the 13th but he regained it after an approach to six feet on the 15th before missing golden opportunities on the next and last as he set the target at 14 under.
Hatton missed the green on the 15th and 16th - he failed to get up and down on both occasions and, incredibly, Bjerregaard suddenly led the tournament by a shot. He then holed a 25-footer on the 16th to move two ahead but a three-putt bogey on the Road Hole left Hatton a 12-footer for a playoff ahead on the last, but he failed to make it.
Pulkkanen fired a bogey-free 69 to sit two shots ahead of China's Li Haotong - who carded the lowest round of the day with a 66 - and Italy's Andrea Pavan. Padraig Harrington, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Lucas Herbert completed the top ten at nine under.
Li and Allen Zhang won the team event by one shot at 35 under.
Hatton tried to put a brave face on his performance. “There's positives,” he said. “Obviously finishing second is a good effort. I tried my best to win it again. It would have been pretty special to have three in a row, didn't work out, wasn't meant to be.
“I started off well, scoring pretty well the front nine considering conditions were quite tough. Then just the momentum completely went after the tee-shot on ten. I guess my putt on the last to get in the playoff sums it up, really. Just a massive gust of wind knocks me off, pretty much lose balance on a putt, which is unfortunate. I'm pretty disappointed because it was in my hands.”
KEVIN TWAY took advantage of a back-nine collapse by Brandt Snedeker to win the Safeway Open at Napa - his first PGA Tour victory at the age of 30. He is the son of Bob Tway, the man who defeated Greg Norman to win the US PGA Championship in 1986 by holing a bunker shot at the 72nd hole.
The victory is life-changing for Tway He effectively secures a three-year PGA Tour exemption, as well as locking down his place in the field for The Masters and the Tournament of Champions. In a week that was marked by strong wind, Tway had repeatedly expressed the need for patience. “It was blowing like 40 miles an hour,” Tway said. “My hat was flying off so I stuck it on back to front on the range.”
It had looked like Snedeker was going to stroll to victory when he reached the turning leading by four but he came home in 39. There was a three-shot swing on the final two holes, with Snedeker finishing bogey, par, while Away closed out with two birdies. It meant they finished level on 14 under par with Ryan Moore, showing a welcome return to form with a final round of 67. Moore and Tway birdied the par-five 18th to eliminate Snedeker and when they both birdied it again they headed to the 10th hole. Way picked up another birdie - his fifth on the trot - and it was good enough to give him his first victory
Tway and his father become the 10th father-son duo to win on Tour. How tough were the conditions? Brandon Harkins shot 83, and 13 players hit wind-aided drives of 400-plus yards.
Snedeker had said that he wanted the wind to blow, but bogeyed three straight holes to start the back nine. He halted the skid with pars on 13th, 14th and 15th, seemed to steady himself with a birdie on the 16th, but bogeyed from the trees on the 17th and failed to birdie 18 to fall into the three-man playoff. “I’m going to look at that one in a few years and know I gave that one away,” said Snedeker.
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