SWEDEN’S Mikael Lundberg gatecrashed the party planned for local favourite Bernd Wiesberger with a brilliant birdie to win the Lyoness Open in a play-off on Sunday.
Lundberg and Wiesberger finished tied on 12 under par at Diamond Country Club after the Swede surged through the field with a closing 65 and Wiesberger could only return a 69, crucially letting slip a one-shot lead with three holes to play.
The pair returned to the par-three 18th for the first extra hole and it was advantage Wiesberger after their respective tee shots, only for Lundberg to hole from 45 feet for an unlikely birdie.
Wiesberger was unable to match it from 18 feet and was therefore left with an anxious wait to see if he had done enough to move inside the top 60 in the world rankings to qualify for his US Open debut.
A victory would have guaranteed his place at Pinehurst, but the 28-year-old was left to rely on results in the FedEx St Jude Classic on the PGA Tour.
“I was happy to take the lead and I had it in my hands, I threw it away a little bit,” said Wiesberger, who won the title in 2012. “I hit five bad shots on the 16th which cost me.
“I hit a better shot in the play-off but he made a great putt. He has not been in the winner’s circle for a while, he deserves it. But I lost it a bit.
“I would have taken getting into a play-off at the beginning of the day, but it’s a bit cruel now.”
Wiesberger had put all his eggs in one basket by not playing the US Open qualifier at Walton Heath and missing last week’s Nordea Masters, but added: “I can be proud of myself this week, I played good, not great.
“It would be nice to get a chance to play the US Open and if I get there I will be in good form as well.”
Lundberg had held the halfway lead after rounds of 67 and 68, but a 76 on Saturday left him six shots behind defending champion Joost Luiten starting the final round.
The 40-year-old got off to a flying start with four birdies in his first five holes and after a bogey on the eighth, carded four more in five holes from the 11th to set the clubhouse target.
“Today just started off really well on the first couple of holes. I made some really nice putts that changed the whole attitude,” said Lundberg, whose previous European Tour wins came in Russia in 2005 and 2008.
“As for the play-off, what can I say? I didn’t hit a great shot and Bernd hit a fantastic shot but that’s golf.
“Luckily I had almost the same putt on the 72nd hole so I had the line a little bit, but to hole that putt was fantastic.
“I tried not to look at the leaderboards and do my thing because they are great players and they had some par fives coming up which I thought they would birdie, so I just tried to put a good number out there and hopefully it was going to take me somewhere close.”
He added: “It’s fantastic considering I’ve had to go back to the tour school the last four years.”
Luiten’s two-shot overnight lead had disappeared within two holes as Wiesberger opened with a birdie and Luiten bogeyed the second, with the pair locked together as they entered the back nine.
Birdies on the 10th, 13th and 15th looked to have given Wiesberger the decisive advantage, but he made a mess of the par-five 16th and was lucky to escape with an extremely wild drive on the 17th, which ended on the adjacent 10th fairway. Luiten was unable to find a birdie on the last three holes to join the play-off, a disappointing round of 72 leaving the Ryder Cup hopeful alone in third, one shot ahead of England’s Lee Slattery.
“I didn’t play great, didn’t get any good breaks and nothing went my way. It was one of those days,” Luiten said. “If you are two clear you want to win and finish it off and if you don’t do that you’re disappointed.”
On the PGA Tour, Ben Crane finished three over par in the final round at the St Jude Classic yesterday, but still managed to hold on to his lead and seal up his first PGA Tour victory since 2011.
Crane failed to shoot a single birdie on the last day at TPC Southwind in Memphis, but the American’s 73 saw him card ten under par for the tournament to finish one shot clear of second-placed Troy Merritt.
Crane had led the standings since day one, having scored an impressive seven-under 63 in the opening round which he then followed up with 65 and 69 in rounds two and three respectively.
The victory is the fifth of Crane’s professional career.
Three players were tied for third, one shot behind Merritt, as former US Open champion Webb Simpson hit 66 in the final round to join Matt Every and Sweden’s Carl Pettersson on eight under par.