• BMW International Open, Round Four

Willett pips Fraser in thrilling play-off

ESPN staff
June 24, 2012 « Brownlee lays down marker on return from injury | Chartbeat test »
Danny Willett held it together to land his first European Tour title © PA Photos
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Danny Willett held his nerve in a sudden-death play-off to land his maiden European Tour title at the BMW International Open.

Willett, with 19 top-ten finishes to his name coming into the tournament, forced his way into a play-off by sinking a nervy three-footer for par at the last, and the Englishman eventually got over the line when his rival, Marcus Fraser, missed with a short putt on the fourth extra hole.

On their fourth visit to the 18th tee, Willett piled the pressure on Fraser by chipping to within a foot from the rough beyond the green. Fraser replied with a 25-foot putt that agonisingly stayed out after clipping the edge of the hole and, when the Australian missed his return from three feet, Willett had a simple tap-in for victory.

Willett started the day with a one-shot lead and was looking good after two early birdies. However, his game unravelled somewhat as he neared the finish line, a tricky three-footer at the last - for a closing 73 - ensuring he set up a play-off with clubhouse leader Fraser, who shot a 71 to take the outright lead at 11-under.

Ireland's Paul McGinley hit a brilliant closing 66 to claim a share of third place. After a dire 77 on Saturday, McGinley's head may have dropped but he returned on Sunday a different player. Four birdies from his first six holes banished the demons of this third round and, although he made a bogey at the par-four ninth, he hit the turn in 33. His iron play was the best it had been all week - as 16 greens in regulation indicates - and his six-under effort saw him set the clubhouse target at ten under.

Chris Wood's wait for a maiden European crown continues after the Englishman faded on the final day. There were high hopes for Wood after he began the week with a sparkling 65, but he was unable to reproduce that kind of form as the tournament progressed, with nerves undoubtedly playing their part as he faced up to the prospect of winning on the Tour for a first time.

A bogey at the first set a bad precedent, but he rallied with two birdies to keep his glory bid alive. More errors from the tee cost him, however, and a double-bogey six at 14 appeared to end his title charge. He responded in style - picking up shots at his next two holes - before a bogey at the last saw him sign for a 73, which left him a single stroke off the 11-under mark needed for the ensuing play-off.

Ross Fisher tied for eighth after a fourth successive round of 70, while home favourite Marcel Siem failed to build on three straight birdies at the beginning of his round as a level-par 72 saw him finish on nine-under - one ahead of Fisher.

Sergio Garcia, the world No. 22, bounced back from a disastrous 79 to end the tournament on a high by signing for a 67. The Spaniard struggled with his driver but found a lovely rhythm with his irons to give himself plenty of chances to make birdies. There were seven in all and, although a double bogey sandwiched his good play, a morale-boosting finish lifted him to four-under.

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