Golf WorldJanuary 15, 2017

Graeme Storm takes down Rory McIlroy in a playoff at the South African Open

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 15:  Graeme Storm of England and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland share a joke during day four of the BMW South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on January 15, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Getty ImagesJOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 15: Graeme Storm of England and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland share a joke during day four of the BMW South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on January 15, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ekurhuleni, South Africa -- Less than three months after seeming to lose his exempt status on the European Tour, Englishman Graeme Storm withstood a final round pairing with Rory McIlroy at the BMW South African Open, winning with a par on the third extra hole at Glendower G.C. in Johannesburg.

Last October, Storm, 38, fell 100 Euros short of automatically retaining his playing card, but subsequently moved up one crucial spot on the money list when Patrick Reed failed to play the minimum number of events.

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Storm, the 1999 British Amateur champion, led McIlroy by three through 54 holes (69-63-67) but lost the lead to the World No. 2 with a three-putt on the 14th hole -- his first bogey since the opening round. But when McIlroy bogeyed the 17th, the pair finished tied. “I just stuck to my game plan and tried not to be intimidated by Rory’s extreme length,” said Storm, who closed with a 71 (18-under, 270).

Finally, with the pair playing the 451 yard, par-4 18th for the fourth time of the day, McIlroy pushed his drive, missed the green left, chipped 10 feet past and lipped out the par putt to give Storm his second career European Tour victory.

“I told myself to try and grasp the opportunity of getting my livelihood back with both hands, and I have done that this week,” said Storm.

McIlroy graciously said he was “delighted” for Storm, and added, “I wish I could have done a little more but it's not a bad way to start the season and gives me something to build on in the weeks ahead.”

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