Jane Barlow
European Tour

The Perfect Storm! Rory McIlroy falls to Englishman in South African Open playoff

Graeme Storm lost his European Tour card just 83 days ago.

GRAEME STORM OF England ended a 10-year European Tour title drought by defeating world number two Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland Sunday in a South African Open playoff.

Storm, whose only other triumph came in the 2007 French Open, won with a par four at the third extra hole after McIlroy bogeyed by missing a seven-foot putt.

Three strokes ahead going into the final round, Storm carded a final-round 71 while McIlroy, second overnight, fired a 68 at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg.

They finished on 270, one stroke ahead of another Englishman, Jordan Smith, who closed with a 68.

The playoff was confined to the 18th and McIlroy twice survived wayward drives to salvage pars, and match Storm.

McIlroy was short and just off the green with his second at the third extra hole, then left with his par putt while Storm made the green in two and two putted.

It was an amazing turnaround for the 38-year-old Storm as he narrowly avoided losing his right to play on the European Tour this season.

“I am in shock,” Storm said after winning a competition first staged in 1893, and the second oldest national golf championship after the British Open.

“What can I say? This is surreal. I have just beaten a golfer who is the best in the world right now.

“This is a dream come true after nearly losing my tour card. The whole experience this week has been absolutely incredible.”

Storm closed with a round of two birdies and one bogey over the 6,942-metre (7,100-yard) parkland track in an eastern Johannesburg suburb.

Taking anti-inflammatory tablets to ease a back pain, McIlroy birdied five holes and bogeyed one in his final round.

It was his second South African Open appearance, eight years after missing a playoff near Cape Town by one shot when a virtual unknown golfer.

– © AFP 2017

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