Adrian Otaegui produced a stunning fightback to beat home favourite Marcel Siem 2 and 1 and win his first European Tour title at the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play.
Siem was three up at the turn and two up with five holes to play but Otaegui won the 14th with a par and then made three birdies in a row to claim his maiden win in his 123rd event.
The Spaniard arrived at Golf Resort Bad Griesbach off the back of four consecutive top 20 finishes, and was the form player heading into the final having completed all five previous matches without reaching the 18th hole.
He made nine pars on the front nine as Siem birdied the first, fourth and eighth holes but won six of the eight holes after the turn – including the final four – making five more birdies in the process while staying bogey free.
Siem was fired up from the off and hit an approach to eight feet on the first, pointing at the hole as he made the putt to go one up. He went on to birdie the fourth and eighth holes, but Otaegui turned the tables, winning six of the eight holes after the turn – including the final four. He made five more birdies in the process while staying bogey free.
The win is the sixth of the season by a Spanish player while for Siem, his best result of the campaign is a big step in the right direction for a player who teed it up at the Beckenbauer Course on Thursday 125th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
Swede Johan Carlsson beat Alejandro Cañizares of Spain 3 and 2 – with the help of three eagles – in the earlier match to decide third and fourth place.
Carlsson eagled the third, with a par enough to take him two up on the fourth, before Cañizare won the sixth and seventh with pars and birdied the ninth to lead at the turn.
But Carlsson came roaring back, eagling the par five 12th, birdieing the 14th and 15th and then eagling the par four 16th for the second time on Sunday after achieving the feat in his semi-final against Siem.
“It’s very, very special to have my first European Tour victory here at the Paul Lawrie. I’m so happy.
“I didn’t start very well at the beginning. I was very quickly two down. Marcel was playing very good golf, he was hitting very good iron shots into the greens. He holed some good putts, which I didn’t. I didn’t hole any putts on the front nine.
“I was a bit worried at some points. Then suddenly it clicked and I made a few birdies on the back nine. I just wanted to keep fighting until the end.
“I came from the 16th one up which was the first time I was up in the game. It was 160 into the wind. I hit a good six iron, I just wanted to play just right of the pin.
“I got solid contact and it was a good shot just five, six metres right of the pin and we were pretty much the same distance Marcel and I. It was me to putt first and I made a great putt, and holed it straight in the middle. It’s just an amazing feeling.”
“I was totally in control, I just had to keep making birdies and pars. He didn’t make any mistakes all day. I’m really upset, it’s really disappointing. It was right there on a silver plate for me today.
“There’s nothing better than having a tournament win under your belt, having an exemption for next year. A lot of things I thought about last night I should have thought about on the back nine. Thomas BjØrn is the team captain for The Ryder Cup on my favourite golf course where I won before.
“Having an exemption under my belt, I would have had a chance to play in every tournament. I’m still in there, but with an exemption going into 2018 it’s a bit easier to schedule everything and try to get into the team. I totally forgot about that on the back nine to be honest. That was my motivation.”
“I felt good in the beginning, and then in the middle I gave a few shots away and it got away from me a little bit. Then it’s easy to get down on yourself, but I managed to drain a few good ones. Eagle putts – I think I made three eagles today if you count that last one – it helps a bit with the momentum when you do that.
“I think this is my best finish ever if I’m not mistaken. I’m really happy with that. It’s always nice to finish in the top five. I enjoyed it.”