SWEDE Richard Johnson sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the finalgreen to become only the second home winner of the Scandinavian Masters in the last 12 years.
With a play-off looming against Argentina’s Rafa Echenique, the 33-year-old looked to have played safe with his approach to the 407-yard last at Bro Hof Slott near Stockholm. But months of putting woes in the US – he is now based there, but has not had a single top-30 finish since February – were forgotten as he took his second European Tour title eight years after his first. Johnson, whose regular caddie Lance Ten Broeck went and played in the British Senior Open instead and missed the cut, earned 260,000 after a closing 71 gave him an 11-under-par total of 277.
“It’s one of the sweetest things I’ve ever done,” he said. “Just to come up the 17th and 18th is magical. This is a huge tournament to win for a Swede and I’m speechless. It’s epic.”
Italian Edoardo Molinari, winner of the Scottish Open two weeks ago, took another step towards a Ryder Cup debut – possibly alongside his brother Francesco – by finishing third thanks to a 20-foot last putt.
That left Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in a tie for fourth with Australian Brett Rumford and New Zealander Mark Brown.
“I didn’t play well,” said Oosthuizen after his 73. “I didn’t drive well and it put everything under pressure. I had to push it at the end, but Richard played brilliantly. I’m a bit disappointed, but after last week I was hoping to make the cut and I finished fourth, so I’m happy.”
He now heads back home for a week off and a party at his home club to celebrate his major victory.
With joint overnight leader KJ Choi hooking his opening drive out of bounds and then putting two balls in the water for a nine on the 15th – the Korean eventually signed for a 78 – the day developed into a battle with world number 329 Johnson and world number 371 Echenique.
Others had chances, though. Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, five behind at the start, led when he turned in 32, but then came home in 40.
Molinari, meanwhile, said after his 69: “I missed so many putts. I think I could have won easily to be honest. But that’s golf sometimes. I’m still outside the team, so I need to play well in the last two or three events.”
Second place would have put him fourth in the standings and have put Donald out of the all-important top nine, although the English star had a chance to improve his hopes of a recall in Canada later in the day.
Perhaps the European Tour knew something, though. Their website installed Johnson as the winner even before he teed off following a four-and-a-half hour rain delay.
Choi’s double bogey seven on the first gave him a two-shot lead, but he bogeyed the next two and after regaining a one-stroke lead he bogeyed the short 16th to drop back alongside Echenique.
Echenique won the Tour’s “Shot of the Year” for an albatross in Germany last season, but he finished runner-up in that event as well and this was his third runner-up finish. After missing the cut in seven of his last events, though, the 29-year-old had a lot of positives to take from the week.
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