Jordan Smith wins the European Open (and no, that's not a typo)
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For the second straight week on the European Tour, a guy called Jordan emerged victorious. Not Spieth this time, of course, but Smith. Taking advantage of defending champion Alex Levy’s miss from no more than three feet at the first extra hole of their sudden-death playoff, the 24-year old Englishman made birdie his second time around on the 517-yard par-5 18th hole at the Green Eagle course near Hamburg to clinch the Porsche European Open title and the winner’s check of €333,330.
The pair had earlier tied on 13 under par, two shots clear of Sweden’s Johan Edfors and the unlikely figure of Siddikur Rahman from Bangaldesh. It was the five-foot-five, 32-year-old Asian Tour regular’s second-highest finish on the European Tour. In 2016, he was runner-up at the Mauritius Open, a feat that helped him qualify for last year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
For all that, the big story of the week was the continuing rise of Smith. Over the last three seasons the 2013 GB&I Walker Cupper has seamlessly worked his way through European golf’s various divisions. In 2015, he topped the Order of Merit on the EuroPro Tour, which gained him playing rights on the Challenge circuit. Twelve months later he topped the money list again (the Race to Oman), earning further promotion onto the European Tour, where he is currently a strong candidate for rookie of the year. And now he is a tournament winner at the highest level of Old World golf.
“I’ve loved it all,” said Smith, who two-putted from more than 90 feet to clinch victory in what was only his 25th European Tour event. “It’s been nerve-wracking at times, but I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s all a bit surreal. Obviously, the Challenge Tour last year and the EuroPro the year before that. It’s been fun. I had a really good start to the year and the first aim was just to secure my Tour card, which I managed to do. And then the second goal was to win an event, which I’ve managed to do.”
Elsewhere, a surprisingly large American contingent, numbering 11 in all, was amongst the starting line-up. Best of the bunch turned out to be former Duke star Julian Suri, who finished ahead of the expensively imported Patrick Reed and PGA champion Jimmy Walker. The 26-year-old Suri, who currently sits second on the Challenge Tour money list, shot a disappointing final-round 74 to finish T-16 on seven under par. Reed was one-shot worse at T-19; Walker another shot back at T-28.