Paul Casey Wins European Open After Thrilling Final Day in Hamburg
Paul Casey began the week by saying that he would love to win the European Open and he did precisely that after a thrilling final day in Hamburg to deny Scotland’s Robert McIntyre his maiden European Tour title.
"This is an incredibly prestigious tournament," Casey said. "I'm over the moon to be European Open champion."
In a nail biting conclusion, Englishman was joined by Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, looking for his third victory of the year, and overnight leaders MacIntyre and Bernd Ritthammer at 12 under par with three holes remaining. And Casey was not to be denied. His long birdie putt at the 16th was the turning point. He then followed it with another birdie at the 17th to secure his 14th European Tour victory in Hamburg - his first since the KLM Open in 2014.
Casey started the day one shot behind the Scot and Ritthammer at eight under and recorded his best front nine of the week of 31 to move in contention, with MacIntyre still one in front at the turn.
McIntrye dropped a shot at the 12th while Casey birdied the 13th to go ahead before breaking out of a four-way tie for the lead with that decisive birdie at the 16th. MacIntyre and home player Ritthammer had chances to force a playoff at the last but they could not hole their putts.
MacIntyre made only one birdie during the third round but began the final round by picking up a shot at the opening hole after putting his approach to six feet. The Scot parred the next four but was unlucky not to birdie each hole and Ritthammer joined him at the top with a birdie at the fifth.
Casey produced a fine tee shot at the second to card his first birdie of the round and when he rolled in an eight-foot putt at the sixth following a great approach, there was a three-way tie at the top.
The Englishman took the lead on his own with his third birdie of the day at the eighth, but MacIntyre responded with one of his own at the seventh to move to 11 under.
Casey made a fine par save at the ninth after sending his tee shot into the sand. Despite finding the rough with his drive at the par five, Ritthammer landed his third shot to two feet for a tap in birdie to join Casey at 11 under, and MacIntyre matched him to take the lead heading into the back nine.
Up ahead of them, Wiesberger was having one of those days. After a bogey at the second, the Austrian picked up the shot at the fourth before he carded four in a row from the eighth to move in contention at eight under. And he picked up three more at the 13th, 14th and 15th, narrowly missing a putt for eagle at the 15th, to move to 11 under.
It looked as though Wiesberger would join MacIntyre and Casey at the top of the leaderboard after the Scot and Ritthammer took penalty drops after wild tee shots at the 11th. But MacIntyre salvaged a miraculous par with a monster putt to maintain his lead before his first dropped shot of the day at the next.
Casey struck a magnificent approach to the 13th and when he holed his putt, he led on 12 under. Ritthammer bogeyed the 11th but regained the shot at the 13th to move alongside playing partner MacIntyre and Wiesberger, however, the pair soon left the German at 11 under alongside Frenchman Romain Wattel, who eagled the last for a terrific 64.
Wiesberger recorded his sixth birdie of the back nine at the last to set the clubhouse target of 12 under following his superb 64, and moments later MacIntyre joined the Austrian and Casey at that mark with a calm gain at the 14th.
Casey lipped out with his birdie try at the 15th which would have put him alone at the top, but Ritthammer joined the group on 12 under when he birdied the same hole.
But 43-year-old Casey wasn’t finished yet and when he drained a 35-footer on the 16th it took him into the lead on his own at 13 under with two holes still to play. Ritthammer hit back with a birdie at the 16th to move to 13 under but he remained one shot behind Casey after a fine tee shot at the penultimate hole led to back to back birdies for the European Ryder Cup star.
Austrian Matthias Schwab made his move to 11 under with five birdies and bogey and joined Ritthammer thanks to an eagle at the last. Casey could only par the last to give MacIntyre and Ritthammer hope of a playoff, but the Scot’s eagle putt slid by the hole before the home favourite’s birdie attempt pulled up just short as the final pair finished at 13 under par.
Wiesberger finished in solo fifth at 12 under, while playing partner Wattel was one shot further back in sixth and Italian Guido Migliozzi and Pablo Larrazábal at ten under.
Wiesberger, who narrowed the gap on Shane Lowry at the top of the Race to Dubai, was pleased with his week’s work. “I’ve been striking the ball really, really good, probably the best I have all year,” Wiesberger said. “It was frustrating for me on the greens, my short game wasn’t really good. That’s why I wasn’t further up the leaderboard going into Sunday. I holed a really nice long putt on eight to get myself going and that kick-started it.
“I hit a lot of really nice shots and a couple of nice putts as well and let it go to see what I could achieve out there today. We wanted 13 (under) really. It was a high level today for a 64. I have to be pretty pleased, but we were thinking that 13 would be nice.”
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