BERND Wiesberger secured his first Rolex Series title after defeating France’s Benjamin Hebert in a thrilling play-off at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
The Austrian, who was runner-up at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open just seven days ago, was not to be denied for a second consecutive week as he triumphed over Hebert with a par on the third extra hole at The Renaissance Club, at North Berwick.
The 33-year-old held a two-stroke lead after 54 holes, but Hebert set the clubhouse target on 22-under par after a stunning nine-under round of 62. Wiesberger then joined him on that total after his round of 69.
The pair parred the first two play-off holes, but Wiesberger tapped in for par from four feet to win his second title of the season after Made in Denmark in May – and moved to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings.
A delighted Wiesberger, who picked up a cheque for €1,035,099, the biggest of his career which has seen him earn nearly €12million, said: “I knew it wasn’t going to come easy for me. I had a great, great warm-up this morning, flushing the ball. It just got a little tough out there for me.
“I just dug in there. Obviously I would have loved to seal it off with a couple of pars coming in, but sometimes it just tests you.
“A great week from Benjamin. He could have just snatched it off me on the first two holes, as well, and just very grateful for how it turned out for us this week.
“I wasn’t in this tournament eight days ago. You know, I had a great week in Ireland and sealed my spot, and what a week this is. Just take a lot of confidence out of the last two weeks into the final major this year.
“I’ve always enjoyed coming to the links, Scottish links, and I’ve had nice success here in Scotland and it’s just really, really nice to be able to stand here with the trophy at the end of the day.
“It was a long day, but somehow managed,” added Wiesberger, who suffered a long-term wrist injury last year that forced him to miss seven months of the season.
There was a consolation prize for Hebert, who earned his place at this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Hebert said: “I was looking for The Open spot, for sure I was chasing this spot, so I’m happy, first.
“I’m very happy as next week will be my first Major Championship as a professional. It was a goal for me actually this season to play in a Major.
“I played in The Open in 2008 but I was an amateur. It was a long time ago.”
Hebert, who earned an exemption at Royal Birkdale as the reigning European Amateur Champion, will be joined in Northern Ireland by Italian Nino Bertasio and Middlesex’s Andrew Johnston, who finished in a share of fourth place.
Beef, who has spoken about his mental health issues that have affected his game over the past year, carded the lowest round of his European Tour career and jumped up 34 places on the leaderboard.
With two holes to play, the Londoner who became the galleries’ favourite at the 2016 Open at Royal Troon, needed two birides to card just the second 59 in Euorpean Tour history, but finished with a bogey after shaving the hole from 15 feet on the 17th.
That left the former Middlesex amateur, who was a member at Wentworth before turning pro as well as his home course North Middlesex, in a share of top spot until Wiesberger and Herbert pulled clear of the chasing pack.
Frenchman Romain Langasque – who won the 2015 Amateur Champinship at Carnoustie, finished third on 20-under – one stroke ahead of Bertasio, Johnston, 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, Italy’s Andrea Pavan and American Andrew Putnam.
Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello, South African George Coetzee, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, England’s Lee Slattery and American Justin Thomas finished on 18-under.
•THERE was a historic moment earlier in the day as Ireland’s Brendan Lawlor won the inaugural EDGA Scottish Open, a new 36-hole tournament for players with disability, which saw 10 players tackle the same set up at The Renaissance Club as the European Tour field.