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Golf Australia Express : Issue 9
IFITWAS high golfing drama you craved, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles had it in spades. The trophy and €266,629 prize should have been Englishman Mark Foster’s, with the overnight leader holding a one-stroke advantage as he teed off at the 72nd hole. But two days of putting woes had one last kick in the pants for him, handing him a bogey and putting him into a playoff with not one, not two or three, but four fellow competitors. Foster, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal, South African George Coetzee and Denmark’s Thomas Björn all finished at 11-under, with Coetzee the big mover on the tournament’s final day, shooting a five- under 67 to put himself into the shootout. One by one, they were eliminated with each repetition of the par-5 18th. Wiesberger was the first to go, bogeying the first playoff hole while the others made par. Larrazábal faltered next, THOMAS BJÖRN AGAIN also bogeying the hole— despite being in the best position off the tee—when he scooped his third shot into the rough at the back of the green. Björn, Foster and Coetzee couldn’t be split the third time around, with all three making majestic birdies after they each put their approach shots within six feet of the pin. The fourth playoff hole was Foster’s undoing when he found the rough off the tee and was forced to chop a recovery shot into the middle of the fairway, eventually carding a bogey, while Björn made birdie and Coetzee sunk a clutch 12-footer to keep the match alive. Five holes was finally a bridge too far for the South African, who couldn’t match Björn’s third consecutive birdie when the Dane again dropped his third shot within touching distance of the pin to secure the win and move him up to eighth in the Race to Dubai. “I didn’t putt the best and probably should have done better than I did today. In the end, it was all down to Mark’s mistake really on the last, but that happens in golf,” Björn said after his win. Björn said having so many players duking it out on extra holes actually relieved some of the pressure that normally comes with playoffs. “And what we were doing now, five guys in a playoff, you’re probably as relaxed as you’ll ever be in a playoff, because a lot of things have gottogorightforittogo your way,” he said. “But the way I played the last three playoff holes, I can’t be more proud of what I did.” OTG WHAT JUST HAPPENED ON THE EUROPEN TOUR FINAL STANDINGS 1 THOMAS BJÖRN DEN -11 € 266,629 T2 GEORGE COETZEE RSA -11 € 106,429 T2 MARK FOSTER ENG -11 € 106,429 T2 PABLO LARRAZÁBAL ESP -11 € 106,429 T2 BERND WIESBERGER AUT -11 € 106,429 T6 STEPHEN GALLACHER SCO -10 € 51,993 T6 JOEL SJOHOLM SWE -10 € 51,993 T8 VICTOR DUBUISSON FRA -9 € 35,942 T8 KENNETH FERRIE ENG -9 € 35,942 T8 IGNACIO GARRIDO ESP -9 € 35,942 WRAP THE