Fasth slips, but holds off Bickerton

European Tour

Tournament: Andalucia Open de Espana Valle Romano
Venue: San Roque Club, Cadiz, Spain
Winner Niclas Fasth

A day after his 34th birthday Swede Niclas Fasth had two more things to celebrate tonight – the fourth victory of his European tour career and a big leap up the Ryder Cup table.
The Ascot-based player, a member of the triumphant 2002 team at The Belfry, won the Spanish Open at San Roque in a play-off with England’s John Bickerton.
But what a sweat it was getting there.
And as well as the usual fist-pump from Fasth when he sank his winning five-foot birdie putt there was a massive sigh of relief.
Bickerton was eight behind at the start of the final round and even with a course record-equalling 63 thought he had come up just short.
But Fasth, two ahead with two to play, inexplicably bogeyed both of the last two holes to fall into a tie on an 18-under, 270 total.
They then each parred the 18th three times before switching to the ninth, where tables and chairs laid out on the green for the presentation ceremony had to be hastily removed.
Bickerton, who had his first tour win in Tenerife last October, pulled his second shot up against the hospitality tent and Fasth took the opportunity presented to him to grab the £190,464 first prize.
It moves him up from 17th to 12th in the race for places in Ian Woosnam’s side for the K Club near Dublin in September.
Fasth won twice last season – both in play-offs and each time with a birdie. He is making a habit of it, but as long as he keeps winning them he will not mind one bit.
Most disappointed player had to be Dane Thomas Bjorn. Five birdies in his first six holes took him from three behind overnight leader David Griffith into a three-shot lead.
But Bjorn four-putted the short eighth for a double bogey and at the last missed a five-foot par putt that would have put him in the play-off.
Instead he finished in a six-way tie for third with Griffiths – his best finish on tour – fellow Englishman Phillip Archer, Scot Gary Orr, Swede Mattias Eliasson and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara.
Colin Montgomerie double-bogeyed the last for a 71 which meant he ended up joint 28th.
Fasth, who had had six birdies before his two-bogey finish gave him a 69, said: “I knew what I had to do the last two holes and didn’t do it.
“I’m not happy about that, but I know how to hang in there. I fight hard and grind it out. You have setbacks, but I bounced back from them and got it sorted.”
Bickerton’s first tour victory had come in his 287th event after five second-place finishes.
Now he has had a sixth, but this one will not hurt at all. His cheque for £126,973 was the biggest of his career.
Out in 30 Bickerton picked up further shots at the 10th, 16th and 17th. “I’m delighted – I had a new driver, new irons and an old putter and it all came to fruition.”
ALL THE FINAL SCORES
(GB and Ire unless stated, par 72)
270 Niclas Fasth* (Swe) 67 68 66 69 – Fasth won play-off at the 4th extra hole
270 John Bickerton 68 65 74 63
271 Phillip Archer 67 69 68 67, Mattias Eliasson (Swe) 68 68 68 67, Gary Orr 72 64 68 67, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa) 68 66 69 68, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 74 68 69, David Griffiths 68 65 66 72
272 Carl Suneson (Spa) 69 64 70 69
273 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 70 63 68 72
274 Juan Parron (Spa) 66 72 70 66, Miles Tunnicliff 66 71 69 68, Peter Hanson (Swe) 67 69 68 70
275 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 68 70 71 66, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 70 65 69 71
276 David Dixon 67 70 72 67, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 67 71 70 68, Jose-Filipe Lima (Por) 65 73 69 69, David Bransdon (Aus) 71 65 69 71, Graeme Storm 65 67 70 74
277 Santiago Luna (Spa) 71 70 69 67, Stephen Browne 67 70 71 69, Fredrik Widmark (Swe) 69 65 73 70
278 Lee Slattery 67 71 70 70, (x) Jordi Garcia Del Moral (Spa) 68 68 70 72, Jarmo Sandelin (Swe) 68 71 74 65, James Hepworth 68 68 69 73
279 Colin Montgomerie 68 68 72 71, Kieran Staunton 69 71 68 71, Mark Roe 71 69 72 67, Rafael Gomez (Arg) 74 65 73 67
280 Leif Westerberg (Swe) 69 72 68 71, Raymond Russell 70 69 70 71, Titch Moore (Rsa) 66 67 75 72, Ross Fisher 68 73 67 72, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 69 71 68 72, Peter Lawrie 67 71 70 72, Alexandre Rocha (Bra) 70 68 73 69
281 Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 68 70 71 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 71 68 71 71, Magnus Persson (Swe) 70 69 72 70, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 66 74 72 69, Oliver Wilson 71 69 72 69, David Carter 68 69 75 69
282 Johan Edfors (Swe) 72 69 68 73, Robert-Jan Derksen (Ned) 68 71 71 72, David Higgins 70 68 72 72, Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 72 68 71 71, Peter Hedblom (Swe) 68 70 70 74, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 70 71 72 69
283 Raul Ballesteros (Spa) 66 71 71 75, Marco Ruiz (Par) 71 69 71 72, Michael Kirk (Rsa) 72 67 71 73, Jean Van de Velde (Fra) 68 71 75 69, Ivo Giner (Spa) 72 69 74 68
284 Gary Emerson 72 67 70 75, Sebastian Fernandez (Arg) 73 68 70 73, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 71 69 71 73, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 70 71 72 71, Fernando Roca (Spa) 67 72 74 71, Hennie Otto (Rsa) 68 73 74 69
285 Steve Webster 67 71 72 75, Pedro Linhart (Spa) 70 68 70 77, Francisco Valera (Spa) 69 69 73 74, Barry Lane 68 68 77 72
286 Robert Rock 71 68 72 75
287 Andrew Oldcorn 72 68 73 74, Christian Nilsson (Swe) 70 71 73 73, Fredrik Henge (Swe) 70 70 74 73, Sam Walker 69 71 74 73
289 Ian Garbutt 70 71 69 79, Klas Eriksson (Swe) 71 68 72 78, Benn Barham 70 71 73 75
290 Andrew Butterfield 70 69 76 75

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