Crans Montana, Switzerland: Alex Noren snared a 30-foot birdie putt on the first play-off hole to defeat Scott Hend and win the Omega European Masters for the second time in his career.
Swede Noren, who won the Swiss showpiece in 2009, returned a closing five-under-par 65 to end his campaign tied on 17-under 263 alongside Australian Hend (66).
The duo returned to the 18th hole for extra time at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
England’s Andrew Johnston carded a 65 to finish on 266, three shots shy of joining the play-off, while Lee Westwood finished in fourth position following a 63 at the €2.7 million (about US$3 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Li Hao-tong of China fired a 69 to take a share of 18th place and finish as the highest placed Asian.
The 2016 season could hardly get better for Noren, who welcomed a baby girl in February and was victorious at the Scottish Open in July. With his latest win, the Swede joins the late Seve Ballesteros of Spain and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark as the only players to win two Omega European Masters titles.
“It sounds unbelievable. I’m coming off a three-week vacation and trying to get the game in shape. It got into shape quite quickly so it is fantastic. There were tough guys hunting me today. I’m happy I won,” said Noren, now a six-time winner in Europe.
The 34-year-old Noren offset Hend’s overnight one-shot lead with an opening birdie and enjoyed a two-shot advantage when he holed four straight birdies before the turn.
His lead was reduced to one as Hend birdied 15 and it was all square when Noren three-putted 17 for his second bogey of the day.
“It was howling off the mat (18th hole) and you need to hit a big hook. I got lucky pulling that off (twice) but the other guys didn’t. I’ve never won coming from behind or won in a play-off on the European Tour so that makes it more amazing,” said Noren.
Hend, a nine-time Asian Tour winner, was disappointed to settle for second place after hitting two poor tee shots on the 18th hole into the trees.
“He (Alex) played fantastic golf today but I didn’t play quite well enough. That’s golf. You can’t complain when you get into position to win but somebody makes a great birdie on the play-off hole to win,” said Hend.
“I think Alex played the 18th hole way better than I did and made an awesome birdie for a deserving win. It wasn’t a daunting tee shot on the last. It is just like any other tee shot. You just need to stand there and hit it. I was unable to hit the shot I wanted yesterday and today, twice,” he lamented.
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