x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Kaymer holds nerve in French Open play-off

The German pips Westwood in thriller and leaves the former European No 1 searching for his first victory since Sept 2007 after finding the dreaded water.

Martin Kaymer of Germany raises the cup after winning the French Open. Kaymer won on the first hole of a play-off.
Martin Kaymer of Germany raises the cup after winning the French Open. Kaymer won on the first hole of a play-off.

ST QUENTIN // Martin Kaymer won the French Open yesterday after defeating Lee Westwood, the former European No 1, in a sudden-death play-off. Kaymer took the US$930,000 (Dhs3.4m) first prize with a par at the first extra hole after both men had finished on 13-under-par 271, three strokes better than Briton Ian Poulter.

After signing for a three-under 68, the young German fared better at the tough finishing hole at Le Golf National in the shoot-out. His ball just carried the lake and he was able to chip and putt from 18ft, while Westwood, who had matched his 72 hole score with a 65, saw his ball slide into the water. Victory takes Kaymer to fifth on the European money list and he is sure to move from 28th place into the world top 20.

"The world ranking is the important thing to me," said Kaymer. "I've never been so high before. This is obviously very special for me. I had some good chances, but finally I won it, so it's good." The defeat leaves Westwood still searching for his first victory since Sept 2007, though he did have the consolation of picking up a runners-up cheque of £376,701. "Play-offs are fickle," said Westwood. "Martin carried the water by a foot and my ball went in by a foot.

"But I putted better today and that's what I need. Then I'll be winning events by a couple of shots and not needing play-offs." A furious Poulter blamed a press photographer for his round faltering over the closing holes, vowing he would not return to the tournament in future after finding the lake on the 15th. "It was a tournament I wanted to win and some stupid cameraman makes it difficult for you," Poulter said.

"I had a simple wedge into 15 and he fired off three shots on my way down [in the swing] from 25 yards away. It was very difficult to get my mind back on the job then. I'll not be back. It's a shame but that's what happens when you let novices come in and ruin our livelihoods." The overnight leader Rafa Echenique's chances of a maiden victory looked slim when he ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 15th.

When he repeated the feat on the 18th he plummeted to 13th place with a 77, eight strokes away from the play-off. Only a week before, the young Argentine albatrossed the final hole in Munich to take second place in the BMW International Open. One place in the British Open was up for grabs in the event, but only for somebody non-exempt finishing in the top five - and nobody did. English pair Kenneth Ferrie and Paul Waring came agonisingly close, though, missing out by just one shot.

Ferrie, who made his first halfway cut of the season last week, parred the last nine holes for his 67, but now has to play the Open final qualifying at Kilmarnock Barassie today and tomorrow. Waring was in third spot overnight, but managed only a disappoiting 72. * Reuters