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Rory McIlroy edged out in dramatic five-man play-off at European Masters

Sebastian Soderberg held his nerve to earn a first win in what was his 50th European Tour event.

Sebastian Soderberg and Rory McIlroy at the European Masters.
Sebastian Soderberg and Rory McIlroy at the European Masters.

SEBASTIAN SODERBERG FENDED off world number two Rory McIlroy to win a five-man play-off and claim the European Masters title in Switzerland.

The 28-year-old Swede started the day four shots off the lead, but he made five consecutive birdies from the 10th to 14th to charge to the top of the leaderboard, only for a three-putt on 17 to drop him down to 14 under par.

McIlroy, Lorenzo Gagli, Andres Romero and Kalle Samooja joined Soderberg on the same score at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf, with a play-off needed to settle the European Masters for the sixth time in seven years.

But with McIlroy and Samooja squandering close-range conversions, a 10-foot putt for birdie secured Soderberg’s maiden European Tour trophy.

Tommy Fleetwood had made early inroads towards the top at Crans, but two bogeys on the back nine saw the Englishman drop away from Soderberg, who was in sensational form, while McIlroy looked equally as sharp.

McIlroy carded five birdies in six holes to co-lead, and the Northern Irishman even emulated an iconic shot from Seve Ballesteros on the 18th.

Ballesteros’ ‘great escape’ is one of the most incredible recovery shots in the history of the European Tour, and just feet away from the plaque which marks the spot from which the Spaniard got himself out of a huge hole in the trees at the 1993 tournament, McIlroy chipped a wonderful effort onto the fairway.

McIlroy would not have been in contention, however, had one of Gagli – who made a double bogey on the first hole – Romero, Samooja and Soderberg converted would-be winning putts on the 18th.

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.

“I was shaking for the last few holes in the round,” said Soderberg. “I calmed down a little bit for the play-off. I’m very proud of myself to be able to play good when I’m shaking.

“I felt like I had nothing to lose and just played as aggressively as I could. I was way more calm down the play-off than I was in my last few holes out there in the fourth round.

“I was just trying to take one shot at a time. I had nothing to lose at all and it’s going to change a lot going forward.”

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