Karlberg Claims Italian Open in Playoff
Heading into a playoff, would you take the guy with 11 European Tour wins, 2 Majors who was formerly ranked No. 1 or the guy who has 0 wins, 0 Majors, and would be happy to be ranked No. 100?
Logic went out the window on Sunday in Italy where Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg defeated Germany’s Martin Kaymer by a single stroke in the extra session to win the Italian Open, his first career European Tour title.
Down three strokes to Kaymer after three rounds, Karlberg looked like he wouldn’t have a chance to make a run as he was 1-under while Kaymer was 4-under on the front nine, seeing the lead jump to six strokes.
But the deadly Kaymer of the front nine disappeared on the back nine as he struggled to three bogeys in a five-hole stretch while Karlberg birdied two of those holes, making up five strokes to cut the lead to 1.
Both men birdied 16, and Karlberg birdied 17 for a third straight round to forge the tie. Both men parred No. 18 on the first hole of the playoff, but Karlberg birdied it on the second go-round to take the win.
Had Karlberg and Kaymer bogeyed the final hole, it could have been as much as a nine-way playoff, as seven players wound up one stroke back at 18-under.
One of those was Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, who fired a final-round 63 with an eagle and seven birdies.
Kaymer’s Day 3 co-leaders both slipped from that perch in the final round. Jens Fahbring shot a 71 to wind up at 18-under, while France’s Romain Wattel was even-par with a 72 to fall back to 10th at 17-under.
Making a spirited final-day run to tie for 11th was Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, who fired a 65 to reach 16-under.