Sweden's Niclas Fasth won his first European Tour event in five years by beating Miles Tunnicliff in a play-off in the Holden New Zealand Open.
Fasth birdied the second extra hole to claim the £107,000 first prize after the pair had finished tied on 22 under par at Gulf Harbour. The former
Ryder Cup player had carded a superb closing 63 and looked certain of victory when Tunnicliff missed a short birdie putt on the 17th hole in the final
round. However, Tunnicliff recovered his composure to birdie the last and force sudden death, the players returning to the 18th to decide the title.
Tunnicliff's approach on the first extra hole flew the green and hit a young female spectator, the ball bouncing off at almost 90 degrees into the
After checking to make sure the unfortunate girl would be OK, Tunnicliff managed to get up and down for par, Fasth narrowly missing from 18ft for
birdie. Both players found the green the second time around and after Tunnicliff had missed from long range, Fasth holed from 12ft for birdie to seal
victory. Fasth, who finished second to David Duval in the 2001 Open at Lytham to earn his place in the Ryder Cup, endured a miserable season last year
on the US Tour, missing the cut in 12 of his 21 events and recording just one top-20 finish.
He lost his card after finishing 172nd on the money list and was ranked 155th in the world at the start of the week, but demonstrated his potential
with two top-10s on his visits to Europe.
"It feels really, really good," said the 32-year-old. "To win here is fantastic and it really gives me assurance that I'm going the right way with
"I've felt good about things on and off and especially lately I feel the last six months of work have paid off. But it's one thing to feel it, to
actually win is big. You have to do something special to win a tournament.
"I was hoping during the first six months this year to re-establish my position on the world rankings and get playing on the world scene again after a
disappointing last year.
"I felt I was strong enough coming into this season to do that and I feel really good about my game. It's very strong in almost every respect and I'm
expecting it to fall into place more and more.
"I'll keep playing the way I was planning to do but obviously this gives me a bit of confidence. I know where I want to go and this is one step."
Tunnicliff admitted he had been shaken by seeing his shot strike a spectator. "It wasn't nice to see her being put on a stretcher but they told me she
was going to be okay," said the Marbella-based 36-year-old.
"I just had to take a few deep breaths and calm down a bit. All in all it's been a great week. I didn't come in here playing very well but seemed to
turn it around and it gives me a lot of confidence."
Australian duo Richard Green and Simon Nash shared third place on 18 under par while overnight leader Oliver Wilson, playing only his fifth Tour
event, struggled to a 74 to drop to a share of seventh. Wilson, unbeaten in Britain and Ireland's unprecedented third straight Walker Cup victory in
September 2003, was never in contention after three-putting the second for bogey but finished in style with a birdie on the last.
"I putted so well the first three days and it was the absolute opposite today, I think I had 36 putts," said Wilson.
"It was one of those days, I got off to a bad start with the putter and could never overcome that.
"It was at least a great way to finish because that moved me up inside the top 10. If I'd have finished outside the top 10 after that week it would
have been a really bad week.
"I'm pleased with it, I've never been in that position but I took a lot from Saturday's round."