Soderberg pips McIlory to win European Masters

Soderberg pips McIlory to win European Masters”

Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg held his nerve to claim his first European Tour title in a dramatic five-way play-off at the European Masters in Switzerland.

The Swede sank his winning birdie putt from about 10 feet at the first extra hole and then watched as McIlroy and Finland's Kalle Samooja both missed from shorter distances at Crans-sur-Sierre in Crans Montana.

Five shots off the lead, he reeled off five birdies in six holes from the 12th to pull within two shots of Soderberg.

"I feel like when I'm playing my best, I'm the best player in the world".

The playoff was halted for several minutes after Gagli's tee shot struck the head of a spectator who required medical assistance.

"I was more nervous in the beginning than I was towards the back nine".

He has two wins on the Challenge Tour but sat 120th on the Race to Dubai coming into this week after securing a top five on home soil at last week's Scandinavian Invitation.

History repeated itself for McIlroy at the Crans-sur-Sierre club in the Swiss Alps, where he lost a playoff as a 19-year-old in 2008.

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As has become customary in the competition, extra holes were required, with Soderberg holding his nerve to earn a first win in what was his 50th European Tour event. "And I'd like to get back there", McIlroy said Thursday.

"I didn't really know that I was ready to win, I had a bad start to the season and I felt like I was just trying to make my way into the top 110 and keep my card for next year". While the current No. 2 player in the world is near the top of his game, the European Masters marked his seventh event in just eight weeks - something that has clearly started to take its toll. "It's just a surreal way to do it".

A two-over 74 at Victoria National Golf Club in IN left him on two-under and nine shots outside the sixth-place finish he needs to win one of 25 cards via the Korn Ferry Finals Points List.

The Italian had double bogeyed the first but birdied the fifth, sixth and tenth before dropping a shot on the 11th.

Earlier, Soderberg had jumped to the front with five consecutive birdies but he felt he was "crumbling" after frittering away his lead at the 17th hole.

While Soderberg had the opportunity to win in regulation, the 28-year-old three-putted for bogey on No. 17 and then missed a birdie putt on No. 18. At the 17th, he stood over a five-footer for birdie seconds after playing partners McIlroy and Gagli sank theirs to move within one shot.

Spain's Adri Arnaus fired a 64 to finish a shot out of the playoff alongside Frenchman Mike-Lorenzo Vera, one shot clear of Australians Lucas Herbert and Wade Ormsby, Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Austrian Matthias Schwab. It just wasn't meant to be. Got on a good run and the ball kept going in.

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