Bernd Wiesberger shot to the summit of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai after claiming his first Rolex Series title at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open with a thrilling twilight play-off victory over Benjamin Hebert.
The Austrian, who missed seven months of action last year with a wrist injury, started the final day at The Renaissance Club with a two-shot lead but found himself trailing Hebert after his spellbinding closing 62 had set the clubhouse target at 22 under par.
Wiesberger edged back ahead with two to play but bogeyed the 17th and signed for 69 before a par on the third play-off hole handed him a sixth European Tour title and his second of the season following his victory at the Made in Denmark.
“We just dug in there,” said Wiesberger who jumps to top spot from seventh in the Race to Dubai rankings after collecting 1,165 Race to Dubai points.
“I would have loved to seal it off with a couple of pars coming in but sometimes it just tests you. I’m very grateful for how it turned out.
“I’ve always enjoy coming to the links, Scottish links, and I’ve had nice success here in Scotland and it’s just really, really nice to be able to stand here with the trophy at the end of the day. It was a long day but somehow, I managed.
“Being in places where you have no control over what is going to happen next like all of last year makes it a lot sweeter and you appreciate it a lot more.”
Despite missing out on a maiden European Tour victory, Hebert had the consolation of sealing a place in this week’s Open Championship alongside England’s Andrew Johnston, who also carded a closing 62, and Italian Nino Bertasio.
The Frenchman also makes significant strides in the Race to Dubai rankings, jumping up to ninth from 45th which all but seals a debut outing at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the season.
Meanwhile, Romain Langasque, who sealed his European Tour playing privileges at Qualifying School at the end of last year, secured third place after finishing two shots behind the top two. The Frenchman moves up to 13th from 30th in the rankings.
Two-time DP World Tour Championship winner Henrik Stenson, Andrea Pavan, Andrew Putnam, Bertasio and Johnston finished a shot further back to share fourth place in Scotland.
Pavan jumps up to 29th from 41st, Stenson moves up 21 places from 59th to 38th while Bertasio and Johnston edge closer to the Race to Dubai’s top 50.
The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai rankings will contest the season-ending $8million DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 where $3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest prize in world tournament golf.
Danny Willett won the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on Sunday as Francesco Molinari secured the Race to Dubai crown.
Here, we look at the winners and losers from Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The new Race to Dubai champion has taken his game to a different level in 2018, with three tournament wins, including a first major at the Open Championship in July.
He also made history by becoming first European to win all five matches at the Ryder Cup last month. Although the 36-year-old will be disappointed with his tie for 26th finish this weekend, he still caps off the best year of his 14-year professional career.
The Englishman clinched his first win since the Masters in April 2016 with victory at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Willett carded a stunning final round of 68 to finish two shots ahead of compatriot Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed. With six players within two shots of him on the 14th hole, the 31-year-old went on to birdie three of the next four to clinch his sixth European Tour title. A class act.
The London-native continued his remarkable rise in world golf with a scintillating second-place finish.
Leading at the halfway stage on Friday, the 28-year-old looked on course to seal his fourth European Tour crown of the season, but a double bogey on the eighth hole in round three saw him close with a 71 and drop down the leaderboard.
Still, he redeemed himself with a final round 68 to cap off a fine season.
The Northern Irishman arrived in Dubai full of promise and optimism but could only manage a 20th-placed finish – his worst result at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Sitting in a tie for sixth after the end of Friday’s play, it looked like the 29-year-old could be in contention but six bogeys and one double bogey over the final two rounds saw him drop out of the top-20.
A poor finish to what has been a mixed season for the four-time major winner.
The German was another player who was starting to find his form at the season’s end, but struggled around the Earth course.
Coming into this week’s tournament, he was backed by a strong T5 finish at the Turkish Airlines Open and a T21 at the Nedbank Challenge. However, he failed to replicate those formidable displays and ended up posting a miserable seven bogeys and two double bogeys over the second and third rounds, to finish in a tie for 55th.
Danny Willett claimed his first win since the 2016 Masters with victory in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Willett carded a final round of 68 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish 18 under par, two shots ahead of fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and current Masters champion Patrick Reed.
The 31-year-old from Sheffield had not tasted victory since winning his first major title at Augusta National and had slumped from a career-high of ninth to outside the world’s top 450 earlier this season after numerous injuries and a loss of form.
Willett credits coach Sean Foley – who formerly coached Tiger Woods – and fitness trainer Kev Duffy for his resurgence, first teaming up with Foley at last year’s US PGA Championship when he admitted he was “pretty low and open to trying anything” to save his career.
The move paid off and Willett was slowing climbing the world rankings with three top-10 finishes on the European Tour this season, including a tie for seventh in Turkey a fortnight ago.
Having started the final round in a share of the lead with Reed, Willett surged three shots clear with a long-range eagle on the par-five second and a birdie on the seventh.
That lead was wiped out after bogeys on the 10th and 12th, but Willett responded brilliantly to birdie the 14th, 15th and 17th before a heart-stopping moment on the last, where his drive somehow finished inches short of the creek which runs the length of the hole.