Andrea Pavan Sees Off Matt Fitzpatrick in Dramatic Finish in Germany
Matt Wallace narrowly failed to successfully defend his BMW International Open title in Munich on a day when one of the European Tour’s brightest young stars secured his second victory.
In the end, Andrea Pavan beat Matthew Fitzpatrick in a playoff. The Italian began the final round four shots off the lead before carding a closing 66 to set the clubhouse target at 15 under and then had to wait and see if it was good enough. It seemed unlikely as Fitzpatrick entered the closing stretch in a share of the lead but the Englishman dropped a shot at the penultimate hole before picking the shot back up on the last to set up the playoff.
Heavy rain began to fall as the playoff got under way and it helped Fitzpatrick as his second shot when they went back up the last plugged in the rough inches short of the water as he went for the green.
Both men parred the hole and they headed back to the tee. Second time around Pavan played a poor second but his third was magnificent to set up a birdie from two feet and, when Fitzpatrick failed to get up and down from the sand, Pavan was the champion.
Austrian Matthias Schwab had led by two with seven holes to play but he signed for a 71 to finish in a tie for third at 13 under alongside Matt Wallace, overnight leader Jordan Smith, Spanish duo Rafa Cabrera Bello and Alvaro Quiros, South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Italian Edoardo Molinari.
Cabrera Bello and Wallace had also held the lead on a terrific final day in Munich.
A two-time European Challenge Tour and Qualifying School graduate, Pavan won his first European Tour title at last season's D+D Real Czech Masters and rediscovered that form in Germany, starting and finishing the tournament with his two lowest rounds of the season. "It's amazing," he said. "I thought I had a chance starting the day. I was playing very well coming into the week, I just hit a few bad drives - it's always a little bit of an Achilles heel. This hole (the 18th) is not the best for me without the driver but I managed to make birdie.
"I was feeling the rush. I had a little pitching wedge and luckily I got a decent lie but it just felt great, it was really close. Two years ago at this moment I was really struggling. I can't thank enough my coach, my caddie, my family, my wife - it's really amazing."
Pavan did not hold the lead at any stage on Sunday until he hit his final putt in regulation play - carding six birdies in a bogey-free effort. He birdied the first before putting his approach at the fifth to tap-in range and taking advantage of the par five sixth, with an 11 footer on the ninth putting him in a share of second. A ten foot putt on the 16th after an excellent par save from the trees on the previous hole had him within one and when he got on the 18th green in two, he had set the target.
Fitzpatrick parred his first eight holes but reached the green at the par five ninth in two to join Pavan in second place at the turn. He was still one adrift when he birdied the 13th from eight feet but a brilliant second from the left rough and a putt from the fringe on the next had him in top spot. A three putt par on the driveable 16th and bogey at the par three 17th after finding sand off the tee put the pressure on but Fitzpatrick hit a stunning three wood into the 18th green to set up a birdie.
He was bitterly disappointed afterwards. "It's just been a tough season so far, really, not holing the putts,” Fitzpatrick said. "I've been playing well, that showed coming here and getting into a playoff. It's a good week overall but I am very disappointed not to top it off."
American Chez Reavie held on to claim his first PGA Tour victory in almost 11 years at the Travelers Championship. The 37-year-old started the final round with a six-shot lead, but TPC River Highlands is a place where four times in the previous 14 years, the winner had started Sunday six or seven behind. And with just two holes to play, Reavie found himself just one ahead of Keegan Bradley.
However, Reavie birdied the 17th to clinch his second PGA title, his first since the Canadian Open in July 2008. England's Paul Casey hit four birdies and an eagle in a final-round 65 to finish in joint fifth in Connecticut.
Reavie had shot eight birdies in his final 11 holes in the third round, but this was a different ball game. It always is when you are trying to win a tournament and have not done so for a long time. By the time they reached the turn, Bradley had reduced the lead to five and by the time they reached the par-four 15th Reavie’s lead was down to a single shot.
His putter, which had been red-hot earlier in the week, suddenly went stone-cold on him as he missed holdable putts on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th holes. He could have been forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t going to be his week after all. But it was Bradley who faltered. Having reeled his man in, he found a found a bunker, thinned it and ran up a costly double-bogey from which there was no way back. So when Reavie birdied the 17th, the title was his. He finished the week on 263, 17 under par, four ahead of Bradley and Zack Sucher.
Afterwards, they queued up to pay tribute to Reavie. His caddie, Justin York, who has worked with him for four years, said: “He’s a bulldog,” said York, who has caddied for Reavie for nearly six years. “He’s as mentally tough as anyone out here.”
“He’s tough as nails,” said Casey, who was a senior at Arizona State when Reavie arrived as a freshman in 2000. “He doesn’t have the physical attributes that seem to be what you need to play nowadays [Reavie is 5ft 9in and weighs just 160lb] but he’s always nipping at your heels, like a Jack Russell. He’s brilliant.” Much the same could be said of Casey, who closed the week with a brilliant 65.
As for the winner, he was relieved to finally taste victory again. His first win came quickly. He had to wait 258 tournaments for his second. “I was fortunate enough to stay patient because I knew Keegan would come out firing.”
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