‘Relieved’ Bernd Wiesberger wins Shenzhen International after edging out Tommy Fleetwood in play-off

Austrian secures fourth European Tour title on Sunday at Genzon Golf Club having led after the second and third rounds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 April, 2017, 8:29pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 April, 2017, 11:07pm

Overnight leader Bernd Wiesberger of Austria beat England’s Tommy Fleetwood at the first play-off hole to win the US$2.8 million Shenzhen International in China and secure his fourth European Tour title on Sunday.

Wiesberger, 31, led after the second and third rounds at Genzon Golf Club in his 200th European Tour event, and scrambled to a one-under-par 71 to force a play-off with Fleetwood, who carded a tournament-best 63 to set the clubhouse target at 16-under.

Returning to the 18th tee in pouring rain, Wiesberger saw his blocked drive finish on a downward lie on the bank of Dragon Lake before the Austrian nailed a nine iron from 166 yards to five feet and coolly converted after Fleetwood missed a long birdie putt.

“I’m glad to have that fourth win. I’m just really happy with the way it’s turned out,” said Wiesberger, who won two European Tour titles in 2012 and added the Open de France in 2015.

“Tommy has had a great day and I’m just grateful to make that one shot in the play-off when I needed to. I’m feeling a bit relieved. I’ve had a stretch of really good events the last couple of months so it’s really nice to have a trophy now.”

Wiesberger, who is set to move inside the top 30 in the world, started the day at 15-under, three ahead of South African Dylan Frittelli.

Austria’s Wiesberger keeps lead at Shenzhen International

Birdies at three and seven either side of a bogey at five put him 16-under, where he remained following 11 straight pars.

After six players drew within a stroke of him throughout the round, Wiesberger shared the lead with Fleetwood, England’s Ross Fisher and South Africa’s George Coetzee after all three birdied 17, before the latter pair dropped shots at 18.

Fisher, who carded a final round 68, eventually settled for third at 15-under alongside France’s Gregory Bourdy (67).

“The further you go on, the more you see the guys catching up and the harder it is. It was a good battle with great players chasing after me,” said Wiesberger, who has now won three times in Asia, having won a European Tour title in South Korea in 2012 and an Asian Tour event in Indonesia the following year.

Big Bernd Wiesberger eases into pole position at Shenzhen International

“I knew it was going to be hard and that I’d have to shoot well under par to win outright because the guys behind me were all playing well. I wasn’t expecting anything less. They were throwing a lot at me and all I could do was make pars. At the end of the day, I’m just glad I got in a spot where I could play for the title.”

Wiesberger has been one of Europe’s leading players for the past two seasons, finishing ninth on the Race to Dubai in 2015 and 2016, and finished in the top-five in seven of his previous 14 European Tour events.

Aside from four wins, he has eight runner-up finishes on the European Tour, including six in the past three seasons.

“I’m just relieved. I wanted to get off to a good start and show them that I’m up for it and I did. I then scrapped around a little bit with a couple of near misses, which could have got to me, but I stayed calm,” Wiesberger said.

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Fleetwood, 26, was left to rue another near miss after finishing runner-up at the 2014 Volvo China Open at Genzon and third at the first Shenzhen International in 2015.

“I shot a 62 round the Old Course [at St Andrews], so that’s always going to be special, being the joint course record holder, but it’s great to do this on a Sunday and give yourself a chance,” said Fleetwood, who chipped in for an eagle on nine.

“I’ve played well all week, but I was really disappointed – it was stressing me out, actually – that I couldn’t really get anything in the hole, especially in the second round when I played almost as good as I could and didn’t get anything out of it.

“Today, just a few putts went in and I just kept it going all the way through. It was a good time to shoot a 63.”

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Frittelli (70), Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (65) and American David Lipsky (69) shared fifth on 14-under, one ahead of Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (66), Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and France’s Alex Levy (69).

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson fell back to eight-under after a 74.