Warren wins Gleneagles play-off

Scotland’s Marc Warren triumphed on home soil when he beat England’s Simon Wakefield in a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Scotland’s Marc Warren triumphed on home soil when he beat England’s Simon Wakefield in a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Warren, last season’s Rookie of the Year, grabbed his second European Tour title in exactly the same fashion as he had his first against Robert Karlsson in the Scandinavian Masters last August.

After making a closing birdie to tie the 26-year-old took the £233,330 first prize on the second hole of sudden death, making a four-foot birdie putt after reaching the green on the par five in two.

It came something out of the blue – Warren had missed six of his last eight cuts.

“My coach Bob Torrance told me to stop being so hard on myself and it’s an incredible feeling to win here in Scotland,” he said.

“I feel sorry for Simon. He was looking for his first win he had the lead for most of the day, but I managed to pip him at the post.”

Wakefield, still winless in 181 Tour events, missed two putts to win, first a 12-footer on the 72nd hole and then from nine feet for birdie again on the same green when the play-off started.

Wakefield said: “I am deflated. I held it together really well and what can I say? But at least I lost to a birdie and I didn’t have a bogey all day.”

Joint third a stroke behind were Swede Martin Erlandsson and Dane Soren Hansen, whose annoyance at missing a six-foot birdie chance on the last boiled over as he went to sign his scorecard.

Knowing it had probably cost him a play-off Hansen banged his fist down on a drum containing bottles of water and smashed the perspex lid.

“I am never angry, but I had to let it go there,” he said apologetically afterwards. “I take full responsibility.

“I played really, really well, but I’m just disappointed I didn’t make that putt. I am definitely due a win.”

He has two seconds and now a third this year and also led the European Open with a round to play.

Wakefield shared the overnight lead with Fredrik Andersson Hed, who followed an opening birdie with bogeys on the third and fourth and never got back on terms.

Erlandsson, out in 31 with two eagles, forced himself into contention with a 66, but Wakefield, having saved a vital par with a 14-foot putt on the fifth, then birdied the sixth and ninth to turn in 34 and led by one again when he sank an eight-footer for another at the long 12th.

Warren’s birdie on the 543-yard 16th squared things up again and although he failed to get up and down from a bunker on the short 17th his closing eight-foot putt left Wakefield needing a birdie himself and he could not manage it.

Just short of the green in two he left his chip 12 feet short and it slipped past.

Lee Westwood was snapping at the heels of the leaders all day, but after a closing bogey six – he needed two attempts to get out of a greenside bunker – he had to settle for a share of ninth.

Tournament chairman Colin Montgomerie finished alongside him after a 70.

“I didn’t putt well at all,” he said. “It’s getting better, but it’s not good enough. If I’d putted well I would have won.

“I’ll have to putt better to qualify for the next Ryder Cup team – and I intend to do so!”

Defending champion Paul Casey had a shocker of a last round. Still in with an outside chance of winning on the course for a third time when he resumed on four under – he was playing with Erlandsson – Casey double-bogeyed three of the first five holes, turned in 43 and returned an 80.

Asked if it had anything to do with illness he just smiled and said: “Maybe my brain’s a bit sick.

“I had no control of the ball and three shots cost me six strokes. I snap-hooked a drive on the first, lost a ball on the third – very frustrating because it landed close to the marshals – and then went in the water.”

Darren Clarke, the other member of last year’s Ryder Cup team in the field, finished with a 74 for two over. Close to falling outside the world’s top 150 now, his last top 10 finish was 14 months ago.

Ryder Cup qualifying starts in Switzerland this week and he, like many others, will be hoping it puts a spark in their game.

Eighteen-year-old Oliver Fisher, meanwhile, simply hopes things can continue as they are.

A closing 67 gave the Essex youngster his first top 10 finish on the circuit - he was joint ninth with Montgomerie and Westwood – and secured his card for next season.

“Securing your card should not be in the back of your mind, but it has been all year and I’m really pleased,” said Fisher, who two years ago became the youngest player ever to appear in the Walker Cup.

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