Peter Hanson wins BMW Masters
World No 1 turns up the heat with an eagle, then a birdie, but Swede ends as master of Shanghai
Peter Hanson saw fire in Rory McIlroy's eyes and knew the walk down 18 would not be a cakewalk. But buoyed by a Ryder Cup-inspired year, Hanson rose to the occasion and out-duelled the world No 1 at the US$7 million BMW Masters yesterday.
Hanson grabbed the biggest win of his career, his sixth on the European Tour in his 275th event, and showed he is capable of winning one of the four majors with his one-shot victory over the game's biggest talent.
"I saw his eyes light up when he made that eagle at 15, and it's not something you want," the 35-year-old Swede said.
"It was kind of weird, because I was feeling pretty comfortable, working myself around the course pretty well, not taking too many chances and putting the ball where it was supposed to be.
"Then he makes a truly brilliant eagle, then a birdie on 16. I could feel the pressure. It was nice we didn't have to go a few more holes," the world No 25 said, referring to a play-off.
Despite some drama at the last hole, Hanson made another statement to the world with the win against an elite 78-man field, boasting four of the world's top five players, at Lake Malaren Golf Club. "This is by far the biggest win of my career. I put in a massive amount of work to be ready for the Ryder Cup and now it is spilling off into tournaments all around it."
Hanson won the KLM Open in the Netherlands before the Ryder Cup, but that didn't persuade captain Jose Maria Olazabal to use his talents more than twice at Medinah. He voiced his disappointment at the limited playing opportunities.
Hanson may not be a household name, but he made the United States sit up and take notice when leading the Masters after three rounds before falling back into third place behind Bubba Watson.
"I'm more and more comfortable in these situations. Leading at Augusta was the first time I was really in the spotlight.
"In the end, you have to perform in these high-pressure situations," said Hanson, who shot a final-round 67.
McIlroy also shot 67 and paid the price for a succession of missed putts early in his round.
"I'm a little disappointed," the Northern Irishman said. "I'm very happy with the way I played. But I missed four or five short putts in a row on the front nine. It was just too little, too late.
"I wanted to try to make him work for it. He deserved it. To go out with the lead and play the way he did and shoot 67 is very impressive. He was going to be very tough to beat today."
McIlroy headed straight to the airport for an internal flight to Zhengzhou, where he plays Tiger Woods in an 18-hole shootout at Jinsha Lake today. There is no prize money attached - only appearance fees believed to total more than US$2 million for the world's most marketable players.
World No 3 Luke Donald (60) emerged out of the pack to claim third at 17 under.
China's Liang Wenchong saved his best for last, his four-under 68 putting him in a tie for 20th, while compatriot Wu Ashun (69) finished a shot back at nine under.