Bjorn beats Lee in playoff for European Masters
CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland (AP) — Thomas Bjorn made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to beat Craig Lee for the European Masters title.
Bjorn added to his title from 2011 after watching Lee’s attempt from 15 feet slide left of the hole on the par-4 18th. Both had finished with 20-under totals of 264.
“It was to be my week,” said Bjorn, who shot a bogey-free 6-under 65 in the final round. “I have got a long love relationship with this golf course.”
Earlier, both players missed 20-foot putts for the win in regulation on the misty, rain-swept final green following a 30-minute suspension for fog to clear.
Bjorn, who waited out the delay standing on the 18th tee, missed left and then watched on TV in the scorer’s hut as the 36-year-old Lee of Scotland sought to clinch his first career title.
Lee, who led by two shots after his 61 on Saturday, had his putt catch the right lip of the hole and carded a 67.
“He was unfortunate not to hole that,” said Bjorn, recalling how he finished one shot behind Phil Mickelson at the 2005 PGA Championship. “I have had one lip out to get a playoff in a major championship.”
Bjorn’s 14th career European Tour title was his first since winning here in 2011, when he closed with 62 to also finish 20 under.
The 42-year-old Dane earned prize money of 366,660 euros ($483,000). Lee’s career-high check for 244,440 euros ($322,000) looks certain to secure his European Tour status for next year.
″(Craig) needed to do a lot of things to get his card and he has done that,” Bjorn said. “He did tremendous over the week.”
Victor Dubuisson of France was third, one shot back after shooting 66.
Just like two years ago, Bjorn made a Sunday charge for the title in the thin mountain air of the Swiss Alps.
Bjorn fired five birdies in the first eight holes, and added another at the par-5 15th. Indeed, his entire tournament was a model of consistency with just two dropped shots and no eagles in four rounds.
Bjorn birdied the first and fourth holes Sunday, and moved into a three-way share of the lead with another at the par-4 fifth. He joined Lee and Alejandro Canizares of Spain, who eagled the easy par-5 first and birdied the next two holes.
Reaching the turn in 31, Bjorn led by two but missed mid-range birdie chances at holes 11 and 12, as Lee made birdie at the par-4 12th.
Bjorn found trouble at the par-5 14th, hitting his tee shot onto the 13th tee box. He got a free drop and sank a 6-foot putt for par.
“I was lucky. You just have to say thank you when that happens,” said Bjorn, who received a text message soon after his victory from Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.
Lee drew level at 19 under with a 25-footer for birdie at the 14th, then both contenders got birdies at the 15th.
The Swiss event is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand carded a 65 to finish tied for ninth place on 12-under.
Soren Hansen of Denmark made the second hole-in-one of the weekend, using a 7-iron at the 196-yard third hole.
Fog had already delayed the start of play, and weather conditions veered between warm sunshine and a chilling rain shower when the leaders played holes 11 through 13. Sunshine broke through again before fog returned to prolong a tense finish.