Sergio Garcia captured his first title in almost two years on Sunday when he triumphed in a four-way playoff at the inaugural Ho Tram Open in Vietnam.
The Spaniard regained his composure after blowing a two-shot lead with a double bogey on the 17th hole to defeat India’s Himmat Rai, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant and Lin Wen-tang of Taiwan in a two-hole playoff.
Thaworn and Lin were eliminated after the first extra hole when they could only make par after Garcia drained a 35-foot putt for birdie and Rai matched him with a tap-in from five feet.
Garcia then beat Rai with a par on the second hole, after the Indian drove his tee shot into the bushes, to clinch his first title since the Qatar Masters in January 2014.
“Winning is never easy. I was fortunate and you have to be lucky to win,” Garcia said.
“I was fortunate to get a second chance after I pretty much gave it away. I’m very happy as I haven’t won in a while.
“After you’ve been up there and you don’t win, a lot of things go through your mind and this win will help give me a little bit more confidence.”
All four players finished the 72 regulation holes tied at 14-under par after a dramatic ending at The Bluffs links course designed by Greg Norman.
Garcia, the highest-ranked player in the tournament at 12 in the world, appeared to have the title in the bag when he led by two shots with two holes to play but he stumbled with a double-bogey six at the penultimate hole, opening the door for rivals.
Rai leapfrogged Garcia to snatch a one-stroke lead when he eagled the 16th by holing his pitching wedge from 122 yards only to surrender the lead with a bogey at the 18th but was pleased to have secured his Tour card for next season.
“I enjoyed it because I played really good. On the second play-off hole, I just rushed it,” he said.
“I wasn’t feeling comfortable with my grip and I should have backed off. I was a little bit disappointed.”
Lin also dropped a shot at the 17th that would have given him the win while Thaworn could only par the last three holes.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn missed out on the playoff by a single shot and finished outright fifth at 13-under when he tarnished his otherwise flawless day with a bogey at the last hole after making eight birdies in a round of 64.
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