It was not the end the crowd wanted at the Hero Indian Open on Saturday, but it was an exciting finish.
England’s Matt Wallace defeated compatriot Andrew Johnston in a one-hole play-off round to win the title after local favorite Shubhankar Sharma fell apart in the final round after being tied by 54 holes.
Johnston was almost perfect in regulation and shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 to catch Wallace and force a playoff round. Wallace himself was close to perfect and shot the top nine at 4-under and added a birdie at # 10. But he could not add the rest of the way to that, and a bogey at # 16 gave Johnston his opening as he forced the tie with a birdie at 17.
Both finished regulation at 11-under. In the first extra hole, Wallace blew a big ride while Johnston imposed. After playing brilliantly all day, Johnston’s birdie hit struck out, giving Wallace two shots for the title.
“I played great,” he said. “From the time I was three to eight at the beginning of the week, I played some of the best golf of my life and doing it in that style at the end concluded it. I hit some really good shots and that play-off: I pumped it down there on the last one and it went a long way and then a four-iron went even further than I thought it would , so I was a little up. To hit two shots like that is exactly why I play the game. “
The 27-year-old Wallace has now achieved two European tour victories, both coming in the last 10 months. His first victory was last May at the Open de Portugal.
The pair of Britons finished three strokes ahead of the second-highest score, which came from American Sihwan Kim (-8).
Indian sensation Sharma has shown his inexperience in playing for the second consecutive week with a lead. He got two of the first four holes birdies, and then went south with double bogeys at # 5 and # 7. He saved a birdie at # 9 for a front-nine 37 after shooting 7-under at the front during the first three rounds.
He was just as uneven on the back nine, his string of holes went: bogey, birdie, bar, bogey, birdie, double bogey, bogey, par, birdie to complete the fullback on 3 overs. He shot 73-64-72-75 for the tournament to finish tied for seventh at 4-under.
The European tour kicks off next week, followed by the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas March 21-25. Another week off, The Masters goes ahead April 5-8. The European tour returns to its homeland with the Open de Espana in Madrid on 12-15 April.