GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn captured the Johnnie Walker Championship on Sunday, winning a five-man playoff on the fifth extra hole in another step in his resurgence. This was the European Tour’s first five-way playoff in 19 years.
Bjorn birdied the par-5 No. 18 to defeat South Africa’s George Coetzee for his second victory on the tour in 2011.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and England’s Mark Foster were eliminated earlier in the playoff on a cold and windy day at Gleneagles . All five players finished regulation at 11-under 277.
Foster, who shared the lead entering the final round, had been ahead by three shots with seven holes to play. He bogeyed the 18th when he needed a par to win.
Bjorn, winner of the Qatar Masters in February and fourth at last month’s British Open, shot a final-round 69. He sealed the 12th victory of his career after a sensational 7-iron approach to the fifth extra hole from 135 yards.
“The way I played the last three playoff holes, I can’t be more proud of what I did,” said Bjorn, who earned $380,000 for the victory. “That 7-iron was probably one of the best golf shots I’ve ever hit.”
Bjorn became yet another golfer over 40 to win on the tour this season following Ernie Els (South African Open), Thomas Levet (French Open) and Darren Clarke (British Open). Bjorn jumped 11 places in the rankings to No. 59.
“It’s the year of the over-40s,” he said. “When there’s so many young players coming through, it’s nice to go out there and feel like you can still compete. It gives you a boost that I might be 40 but that it’s not over yet.”
This is the first time Bjorn, a two-time Ryder Cup winner, has won two tournaments in one year on the European Tour since 1998.
“I’m delighted, it’s been a brilliant week,” he said. “Things are going in the right direction.”
The outcome marked another blow for Foster, who described himself on Saturday as a “serial runner-up.”
He began the final round tied with Spain’s Ignacio Garrido and three shots ahead. He failed to wrap up the title when he drove into the deep rough at the last hole and landed next to a tree. After two hacks, he couldn’t get up and down. He exited at the fourth playoff hole.
A final-day meltdown was nothing new to Foster. He led or shared the lead in three previous tournaments this year – French Open, BMW International and Scottish Open – without winning. His last win came eight years ago, at the Dunhill Championship in South Africa in a six-man playoff.
“It’s just a game of fractions,” Foster said. “I honestly felt like I made a good swing off No. 18 the first time round. I just needed a break.”