Atwal beats Hedblom in playoff to win Malaysian Open
Atwal knocked in his par putt on the second playoff hole while Hedblom three-putted, ending an eventful playoff after the pair had been tied at 18-under par 270 after the completion of 18 holes in the final round.other Updated: Mar 09, 2008 18:30 IST
India's Arjun Atwal won his second Malaysian Open title on Sunday, beating defending champion Peter Hedblom of Sweden on the second hole of a playoff. Atwal knocked in his par putt on the second playoff hole while Hedblom three-putted, ending an eventful playoff after the pair had been tied at 18-under par 270 after the completion of 18 holes in the final round.
They finished a stroke ahead of England's Simon Dyson, who was left to curse a two-hour play suspension on the last day that interrupted his winning flow, and Australia's Kane Webber, who missed a four-foot putt on the last hole that would have put him into the playoff.
Atwal, who also won the event in 2003, birdied the 18th hole to force the playoff, and recorded a final round of 8-under 64 before claiming first prize of $336,226 (euro219,483) in the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event at the Kota Permai course. "It is an amazing feeling," Atwal said. "To come here and win this title twice now is incredible.
"In the playoff I thought Peter was in trouble off the tee but he played an amazing recovery and that put the pressure on me. "I didn't think I had a chance starting out and just relaxed from the first hole. It was only on the 11th I felt I had a chance. It is incredible."
Hedblom came close to winning outright in regulation but his birdie putt on the 18th clung to the lip of the hole and would not drop.
At the first playoff hole the Swede drove into the water but Atwal then hit his iron shot into a bunker and both players eventually recorded a par five.
With darkness rapidly descending due to the long weather delay, and the prospect of having to return Monday, Hedblom was overeager to hole his birdie putt, eventually costing him the playoff. "As it was getting dark I started thinking of that and wanting to win it rather than come back tomorrow and I stressed a little too much on that first putt and hit it too long and missed the one back, but that is the way goes," Hedblom said.
"Playoffs are not my thing. I have played three on the European Tour now and lost them all. Hopefully I can get a better record soon."
Italy's Francesco Molinari set the early pace in the final round, shooting an eagle on the seventh and four straight birdies to end his round, claiming outright fifth on 16-under.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke was in contention throughout the day before dropping three strokes on his last four holes to blow his winning chances.
Dyson seemed to be heading for a fifth triumph in Asia, leading the field before the interruption, but bogeyed the 16th immediately upon the players' return.
"The break killed me. I could have won if we carried on. I just didnt hit a bad shot coming in," Dyson said.
Webber shot nine birdies and two bogies in his final round and took a share of the lead late in the final round before missing a four-footer that would have put him into the playoff. "It was a perfect shot for birdie," Webber said. "A little uphill and right to left was all that was needed but I didnt hit it hard enough and left it short.
"I sunk a lot today and I cant complain I guess."