McDowell wins Play-Off in Milan
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland won the 61st Telecom Italia Open at the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off with Frenchman Thomas Levet after the pair finished tied on 19 under par 197 at Castello di Tolcinasco, Milan.
The pair matched each other shot for shot over the closing holes to shoot matching 65’s in the third and final round of the event which ran into Monday because of the earlier weather disruptions.
With nothing separating the players, McDowell and Levet returned to the 18th twice in sudden-death, both making pars before moving onto the 17th where they both birdied. Returning to the 18th for the third time in the play-off, the pendulum finally swung McDowell’s way when Levet, faced with a testing six iron off a downhill lie over the water, hit his approach fat and his hopes of a third title disappeared in the lake guarding the front of the green.
That opened the door for McDowell who safely found the putting surface and two putted for his second victory on The European Tour International Schedule following his earlier triumph in the 2002 Volvo Scandinavian Masters, just two months after turning professional.
Victory, after rounds of 66, 66, 65 earned the 24 year old €200,000 (£133,552) and lifted him to tenth in the Volvo Order of Merit.
“When I won in Sweden I felt I was still an amateur,” said McDowell. “I feel this is my first professional victory and I an am very happy man. I was still playing as an amateur when I won in Sweden. I was two months into my professional career. Looking back and knowing what I know no and feeling how much better my game is no I feel I was still an amateur then. Since then I have had two years of working, grinding out here and it is a different world. I feel I worked for hard this one and it feels five times better than Sweden.”
McDowell had four holes remaining of his final round when he returned to the course along with 17 others players at 7.30am and immediately picked up a birdie on the par five 15th, hitting his approach stiff. But Levet was hanging on doggedly, also making birdie on the 15th and then making another on the 17th to tie for the lead. McDowell had a chance to pull one clear from eight feet on the 17th but the putt pulled up short in the jaws on the cup and with both parring the last, the contest moved towards it’s dramatic conclusion.
“I had a little six iron on the last and hit it fat into the lake,” said Levet. “But I wasn’t playing well coming into this week so if someone had said I would be in a play-off I would have taken it. It just seems when I play well someone else does as well.”
Another Frenchman Gregory Havret took third place, his final round of 65, seven under par, taking him to 18 under par 198 and just one shy of the play-off while Argentina’s Angel Cabrera finished a further stroke back on 17 under par after a closing 69.
Courtesy of www.europeantour.com