Austria's Bernd Wiesberger helps cap a European Tour milestone with his latest down-to-the-wire win
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In the final round of every tournament, there’s nearly always a turning point, a moment when the winning and losing becomes clear. Occasionally though, there is more than one of those crucial crossroads. And this time there were as many as five before the destination of the Made in Denmark title over the Backtee course at the Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort was decided.
At the end of a near-epic back-and-forth battle between Bernd Wiesberger and Bob Macintyre, the €500,000 check is headed to Austria rather than Scotland. But what a contest it was, for 16 holes at least. On a day that began with Wiesberger one-shot clear of his playing partner, he made seven birdies and an eagle as he shot a final-round 66 that was only just good enough to bring him a fifth European Tour victory.
Having already seen multiple-shot swings in either direction at the fourth hole (three shots to Macintyre), 11th (two shots to Wiesberger) and 13th (two shots to Macintyre), the destination of the first-place goodies appeared to be coming down to the tee shot that Macintyre fired out-of-bounds way left of the penultimate fairway. Even then, the lefty wasn’t done. He made birdie with his second ball for a bogey-5 to keep the gap between the pair down to two shots.
And there’s more. Wiesberger found the water right of the final fairway and was forced to take a penalty drop. On in three after hitting a 220-yard 7-iron onto the putting surface on the par-4 home hole, the Austrian two-putted for the required bogey once Macintyre only just missed from 30 feet for birdie. Finally, it was over.
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“I’m speechless,” said Wiesberger, who missed seven months of last season following wrist surgery but is now the 50th player to win more than €50 million on the European Tour. “I’m so thankful to everyone who helped me last year. I’m proud to pay them back. It’s been a great week. Winning is never easy. … For me, this is a special victory. I didn’t expect to win this soon. I had a rough time last year. But I’ve worked hard and it is nice to see it paying off.”
Victory would have been a notable step-up for the amiable Macintyre, too. But he is still having notable season. Now up to 12th place on the Race to Dubai in his rookie season, the 22-year-old from Oban on the west coast of Scotland is well on his way to becoming the star the home of golf has been looking for since the best days of Colin Montgomerie.
“I thought I gave it everything I had,” he said. “I had a great feeling with my putter all day. But that poor tee-shot on 17 really cost me. I’d just hit two bad wedge shots on the previous holes and didn’t want to leave myself another once from 100 yards or so. It was the worst swing I’d put on a shot in a long time.
“I still had a chance but Bernd played great all day, I’m proud of how I performed though. I’m young and I’ll learn from this. It’s golf. Today wasn’t quite my day. I’ve just got to keep knocking on the door.”
For the record, defending champion Matt Wallace—not so fresh from his T-3 finish at last week’s PGA Championship—showed obvious signs of fatigue en route to a T-41 finish. After a bright start, the 29-year-old Englishman shot 73-74 on days two and three as the jet-lag kicked in.