2002: PGA European - Hansen needs OT for 1st title

Cork, Ireland

First it was Anders Hansen to the winner’s circle. Now, it’s Soren Hansen.

A month after Anders Hansen won the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, Soren Hansen captured his maiden PGA European Tour title June 30 at the Murphy’s Irish Open, rolling in a birdie at the 17th hole, the fourth hole of a four-man playoff.

Soren Hansen, Richard Bland, Niclas Fasth and Darren Fichardt finished four rounds tied at 14-under-par 270.

“It is strange to follow Anders,” said Soren Hansen, who is no relation to Anders, but is a close friend. “It was always me doing something and Anders catching up afterwards. This time it was different when Anders won the Volvo PGA. The last few weeks I have been playing so well I thought it was just a matter of time.

“I played well the first two days, but in the third and fourth rounds I was struggling but hanging in there, and got the birdies at the right time. I played some cracking golf shots from the 15th and knew I needed an eagle on the last. I thought it was all over at the first playoff hole, but Darren and Richard both missed, and I then grabbed my chance.”

At the first extra hole, the 507-yard, par-5 18th hole, Fichardt was the only player to find the putting surface in two. The remaining three players were unable to make birdie after driving into the rough. (Hansen made par after hitting into the greenside pond in two.) Fichardt missed a 3-foot birdie putt for the victory.

All four players returned to the 18th and this time Bland dropped out. The three remaining players moved on to the 409-yard par-4 first hole, each making par, although the best chance fell to Hansen after he pitched to 12 feet, but he was unable to convert the birdie.

Finally, Hansen settled the matter on the fourth extra hole, hitting a 4-iron to 10 feet on the 222-yard 17th hole, then making the putt for the top prize of 266,660 euros ($264,311).

In regulation, Hansen made eagle on the final hole to shoot 68 and join the playoff. Fichardt and Bland shot 67 Sunday and Fasth had a 68.

Ultimately, however, it was Hansen who was the toast of Murphy’s. Hansen became the 11th first-time winner on the European Tour and only the fourth Dane to win after Thomas Bjorn, who finished fifth, Anders Hansen and Steen Tinning. The largest check of his career lifted him to 11th on the Order of Merit with 605,227 euros.

It was the second consecutive runner-up finish at the Irish Open for Fasth.

“The extra holes were not good enough,” Fasth said. “I am playing well and have a decent record over the last year. It is just a win that is missing right now. I had my chance this week. I just didn’t get that extra putt on the final day the winner always gets. I will get one sooner or later.”

– From staff and wire reports

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