Italy’s Matteo Manassero today became the youngest ever winner of the BMW PGA Championship as he claimed his fourth European Tour title at the age of 20 on the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off.
Manassero, Scotland’s Marc Warren and former champion Simon Khan went into extra holes after finishing tied on 10 under par at Wentworth, 2010 winner Khan setting the clubhouse target after a closing 66 that no one could overtake.
Warren was eliminated on the first play-off hole after his drive finished in an unplayable lie in the trees and his fourth shot found the water guarding the green, with Manassero and Khan both making birdies on the par-five 18th.
Two more visits to the 18th failed to identify a winner, but when Khan’s approach plunged into the water on the fourth extra hole, Manassero’s two-putt birdie was enough to claim the £666,000 first prize.
Overnight leader Alejandro Canizares missed from 18ft on the last for an eagle to join the play-off, the Spaniard finishing nine under alongside compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez, who did make three on the 18th on his 600th European Tour appearance in a closing 67.
Lee Westwood held a two-shot lead after birdies on the second, third and fourth, but played the back nine in 40 to finish joint ninth.
“I feel unbelievable, really emotional,” said Manassero, who at 20 years and 37 days beats the previous record of Bernard Gallacher, who was 20 years and 97 days when he won in 1969.
“It’s been an amazing week. I have always felt something really special about this place and this tournament. Everything has come together this week. I managed to play well and managed to stay in contention after a tough day on Friday and pulled it off with this play-off.
“I am the happiest man in the world right now.”
Manassero began the day two shots behind Canizares but carded four birdies and one bogey to be out in 32, rounding off the front nine in style by holing a bunker shot on the ninth.
A bogey on the 11th was followed by a birdie on the 13th, but his best chance of victory seemed to have gone when he was unable to birdie either of the closing par fives to finish alongside Khan and playing partner Warren.
“I was less tense in the play-off than walking the last few holes because you have done all you can in 72 holes and the rest is about trying to hit good normal shots,” added Manassero, the first teenager to win three European Tour events when he claimed the Singapore Open in a play-off last year.
“I hit four good tee shots in the play-off and on the 18th that is the most important thing.”
Warren was left to rue another missed opportunity after a bogey on the 15th ultimately proved costly. The 32-year-old bogeyed four of the last five holes in the recent Spanish Open to finish one shot outside the play-off and also squandered a three-shot lead with four to play in last year’s Scottish Open.
“The other two occasions I felt as if I probably gave those away. This time, I didn’t do that,” said Warren, who holed out from 114 yards for a fourth birdie in succession on the 13th after his second shot had caught the lip of a fairway bunker.
“On 18 I had hit three or four iron all week and we thought in the play-off the guys are going to go for it so I had to go for it, and unfortunately the tee shot was either five yards too far short or too far right and that was the end of that.
“I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong this week, and it’s all positives and looking forward to my next event.”
Three years ago Khan came from seven behind in the final round with a closing 66; this time he was five off the lead but also recorded a flawless 66.
“I’m disappointed, I’m desperate to win this again and last time it felt a bit surreal coming from that far back,” said Khan, who was playing his first event since March as his wife Lesley has been ill.
“I wanted to prove to myself I’ve got it in me and that’s been the great thing today. I’ve played great. After such a long lay-off, to come back and lose in a play-off of this fantastic tournament, I can take a lot out of it definitely.
“It really was deja vu. I thought this is exactly the same, warming up on the range. I felt great going into the play-off. It’s just a shame that second shot (on the fourth extra hole) didn’t carry another couple of yards or I would probably be going back out to 18 again.”