Johannes Veerman takes inspiration from Tiger Woods on way to Czech Masters win
American Johannes Veerman revealed how he took inspiration from Tiger Woods on his way to claiming his first European Tour title in the D+D Real Czech Masters.
Tapio Pulkkanen took a two-shot lead into the final round at Albatross Golf Resort and moved four clear with birdies on the first and fourth, only to bogey the eighth and 10th.
Birdies at the 12th, 15th and 16th saw Pulkkanen back in the lead with two holes to play, only for the 31-year-old Finn to bogey the 17th and find water with his approach to the last to card a costly double bogey.
Veerman’s closing 68 gave him a winning total of 15 under par, two shots ahead of Pulkkanen and Sean Crocker, with former Open champion Henrik Stenson and Paul Peterson another stroke back.
Stenson had been part of a four-way tie for the lead when he holed from 63 feet for birdie on the 13th, but the Swede’s chances of victory disappeared when he found water off the tee on the 16th and made a double bogey.
A delighted Veerman told Sky Sports: “It’s unbelievable. I played with two great players today, both of them played really well the whole entire way.
“At one point there was four of us all tied for the lead and I just stuck to my game. I can’t believe I won. I’ll wake up tomorrow and then I’ll really feel it.
“I’ve never been so nervous on that shot into the (18th) green and even more nervous on that putt. It’s so simple, done it a hundred times, but nothing that felt quite like it.”
In a roller coaster final round, Veerman got off to a poor start with a bogey on the second before four birdies in the next eight holes briefly took him into the lead.
A bogey on the 11th was followed by a stunning five-wood approach into the par-five 12th to set up a birdie, but arguably the shot of the day was the flop shot to save par from over the 14th green.
“That was amazing,” Veerman admitted. “Me and Connor my caddie were talking about Tiger Woods and how he was short-sided on 16 at Augusta, 16 at Muirfield and he was like ‘Dude, it’s just like that, just a big flop shot on the green’.
“I didn’t make it but hit it close enough.”
Stenson’s tie for fourth place was his first top-10 finish in a full-field event for two years and boosted his case for a Ryder Cup wild card from European captain Padraig Harrington, who he played alongside in the first two rounds.
“I’d give it 10 out of 10 for effort, no question about that,” Stenson said of his performance. “I kept on fighting hard all week.
“I was battling the swing a bit in the final round and made some unbelievable putts throughout the day to stay in the game, and with that monster putt on 13 I was right up there with the guys that were playing a lot stronger tee to green.
“The only big fault was obviously 16. I was trying to take a little bit off a seven iron and semi-fat it and it doesn’t make the carry. That was obviously a killer there to finish the day for me.
“I feel like I’m no more than second or third gear at best out of five so there’s plenty more to pick up on, but we need to make that happen fairly quickly so straight back at it on Tuesday morning.”
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