Dubai: Andrea Pavan took a giant step towards a second appearance at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after rocketing up the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings with an impressive play-off victory over Matt Fitzpatrick at the BMW International Open.
The Italian, who secured his first European Tour title last year at the D+D Real Czech Masters, entered the final round four shots off the lead at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried but shot a superb closing 66 to set the clubhouse target at 15-under par. Englishman Fitzpatrick joined the 30-year-old at 15-under after brilliantly recovering from a bogey at 17 to birdie the last and force extra holes.
A pair of pars sent the duo back to the tee on the first trip back up the 18th before Pavan’s expertly played third shot set up a birdie opportunity and, when Fitzpatrick failed to get up and down from the bunker, Pavan was crowned champion.
“It’s amazing, I thought I had a chance starting the day,” said Pavan, who leapfrogs from 114th to 32nd on the Race to Dubai after collecting 460 points.
“I was playing very well coming into the week, I just hit a few bad drives — it’s always a little bit of an Achilles heel. The 18th is not the best for me without the driver but I managed to make birdie.
“I was feeling the rush. I had a little pitching wedge and luckily I got a decent lie but it just felt great, it was really close.”
2016 DP World Tour Championship winner Fitzpatrick, who is aiming to continue his remarkable run of winning every year on the European Tour since earning his card for the 2015 season, is now on the cusp of the Race to Dubai top ten after earning 305 points to jump from 27th to 12th.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s just been a tough season so far, really, not holing the putts. I’ve been playing well, that showed coming here and getting into a play-off. It’s a good week overall but disappointed not to top it off.”