Gallacher falls short in Nordea Masters play-off

Stephen Gallacher drives at the first tee yesterday on his way to a 68 and a second-place finish in Malmo. Picture: AP
Stephen Gallacher drives at the first tee yesterday on his way to a 68 and a second-place finish in Malmo. Picture: AP
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STEPHEN Gallacher lost a play-off in the Nordea Masters but picked up valuable Ryder Cup points as he completed a profitable week on the European Tour.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee claimed his sixth European Tour title as he birdied the first extra hole to beat both Gallacher and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson at PGA Sweden National in Malmö.

They had all finished on 16-under-par – Jaidee setting the clubhouse lead after a closing 65 before he was joined first by Dubuisson (67) then Gallacher, who holed a 20-foot birdie putt at the last for a 68.

It was the fourth day running that the Scot had birdied that hole but he was unable to keep that run going in the play-off, which Jaidee won with a birdie after hitting a wedge to around two feet.

Gallacher’s consolation was a cheque for £106,000, having picked up one for around £150,000 the previous Sunday after tying for fifth in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

“I had a good week and I was delighted to get into the play-off,” said the 39-year-old after jumping up to sixth in this season’s Race to Dubai. “I holed a lovely putt on the last after lipping out on both 16 and 17.

“Play-offs are fine margins. My ball got up to four foot from the hole and then spun back. The wind drops a bit, instead of gusting, and I’m stone dead. Play-off golf, you need that bit of luck.

“But the putt to get into the play-off was great. It was a bit like the one I holed at Gleneagles to get into the play-off with Tommy Fleetwood (in last year’s Johnnie Walker Championship).

“Jaidee just hit a lovely shot there, or lovely three shots, on the last, which was playing really tough. Overall, though, it was a good tournament and I’m really pleased.”

Gallacher’s performance has lifted him to ninth on the European points list for September’s Ryder Cup and he could also climb from 13th on the world list when it is updated today.

“I was hoping to peak for a couple of weeks,” he added. “I knew I was playing well, so to finish fifth and then second is not bad. I’m delighted with that.

“I’m on course for what my goals are, and I’ve just got to keep playing the same way. I’m looking forward to the US Open now. I played Pinehurst in 2005, but it’s changed. It’s going to be tough, though.”

Jaidee was delighted with his latest Tour triumph at the age of 44. “I worked hard today,” he said. “The golf course is wide open, you have to hit good golf shots and the weather helped a little bit.”

Jaidee’s closing effort comprised an eagle at 11, six birdies and one bogey as he reeled in and overtook overnight leaders Henrik Stenson, the world No 2, and Eddie Pepperell.

“I started with three birdies in a row, had another one on six, then a good comeback on 11,” Jaidee continued. “We were nervous the last few holes – 16, 17 and 18 are tough holes – but 16 under was good enough for a play-off.”

Dubuisson had a chance to win outright in regulation after reaching the edge of the 18th green in two shots, but three-putts from there meant he settled for par and a play-off.

Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen hit a 65 to finish alone in fourth place on 15 under, one stroke ahead of Stenson (71), while Pepperell’s level-par 72 left him in a tie for sixth on 13 under, alongside Alvaro Quiros and Robert Karlsson, whose final-round 63 was the best of the week.