History repeats as McIlroy lets European Masters slip
Rory McIlroy is jetting home to Florida agonising again after letting slip a chance to claim his first Alpine victory after losing in a five-man play-off for the Omega European Masters title.
It was very much a case of history repeating itself as McIlroy stood over a five-footer for birdie at the first extra play-off with the World No. 2′s attempt only grazing the edge of the hole to hand success to Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg.
Eleven years ago, it was a Frenchman Jean-Francois Luquin who denied McIlroy in walking off with the Swiss victory and on this occasion Soderberg birdied the 73rd hole for the 28-year old to collect his first Tour win and a whopping €416,000 pay-out.
As an understandably tired-looking McIlroy sits back in the comfort of his Stateside-bound private jet, he will look back on another one that got away.
Sebastian Soderberg (Credit: European Tour)
McIlroy had bogeyed his closing two holes on Saturday but then come the last day, and as he sought a first European Tour win since his 2016 Irish Open triumph, he missed eagle putts at both the par-5 14th and 15th holes while he sent his final drive in regulation play into trees down the right side of the 18th.
It was the same clump of trees where there is a plaque to commemorate Seve Ballesteros’ masterful chip shot to go within a shot in 1993 of a fourth Omega European Masters triumph.
In contrast, all McIlroy could do was chip-out sideways en route to saving par when a birdie would have secured not only a first Swiss success but his fourth win this year and the 27th win of his pro career.
Five players – McIlroy, Italian Lorenzo Gagli (67), Finland’s Kalle Samooja (66), Argentinean Anders Romero (70) and Soderberg (66) – ended regulation play tied at 14-under par before heading back to the 18th for the play-off.
McIlroy, in drawing ticket No. 5, was last off the tee and while down the left side, he brilliantly managed to find the green with his shot stopping just five-feet from the flag.
But as much as a record-breaking crowd wanted McIlroy to win, it was Soderberg who collected the first prize cheque despite earlier three-putting the 17th for bogey when leading by two shots.
“I just had too many mistakes and I think I had like 13 bogeys during the four days and while I made enough birdies, I just didn’t quite have it over the weekend,” said McIlroy.
“I made a great run there over the back-nine and then I hit a great shot into 18 there on the play-off but the putt lacked a bit of speed as it felt like it started on the right line but I just didn’t hit it with the pace I wanted.”
“It’s been another solid week coming back across the Atlantic and now looking forward to a couple of weeks off.”
McIlroy went into the final round trailing three shots off the lead following a tired-looking bogey, bogey finish to his third day’s play.
Following a rollercoaster front nine of birdies and bogeys, McIlroy fought his way back brilliantly with five birdies on his back nine to get to within a shot of Soderberg before his Swiss playing partner three-putted the 17th to slip into a tie with the FedEx Cup champion.
“This is my seventh shot in eight weeks, so I have played a lot of golf and when you are playing that much sometimes little mental errors creep-in here and there,” said McIlroy.
“The sloppy finish on Saturday probably cost me but I fought back today and did my best, and it just wasn’t meant to be.”
McIlroy collected a prize cheque for €166, 318 and moved to 31st on the Race to Dubai money list.
Fellow Open Champion Shane Lowry continues to lead the European Tour moneylist with earnings of €3.27m.
Wade Ormsby continued his brilliant form from last week with a T8 finish alongside fellow Aussie Lucas Herbert.
Ormsby was well in contention for his first victory since the Hong Kong Open in 2018, sharing the lead with Tommy Fleetwood at the halfway mark today.
However a final round 1-over 71, including a very costly double-bogey at the par 5 15th hole, saw him finish two shots off the pace.