Mikael Lundberg overcame his sloppy third round of 76 on Saturday to complete a sensational comeback, playing a round of 65 on Sunday to force a play-off against Bernd Wiesberger.
Lundberg's putting had been nearly flawless all day, and a beautiful 40 foot birdie-putt on the very first hole put the pressure on the hometown favourite, who couldn't match.
|2014 Lyoness Open Final Leaderboard|
|T1||Mikael Lundberg (won Play-off)||-12||65|
|T5||Miguel Angel Jimenez||-8||67|
|T7||Eduardo de la Riva||-7||69|
Golf Channel's Will Gray was very impressed by the putt:
Lundberg needed to make some magic happen to catch up with the duo of Wiesenberger and Joost Luiten, and four birdies on his first five holes was exactly the start the Swede needed.
Another excellent stretch at the start of the back-nine got Lundberg within one of Wiesberger, and when the latter bogeyd on the 16th, a play-off looked almost inevitable.
That's exactly what happened two holes later. Both players comfortably made the green, with the more difficult, uphill putt for Lundberg. The Swede didn't fail, however, giving the ball just enough power to make the 40-footer.
Via National Club Golfer, Lundberg was understandably ecstatic with the win:
As shared by Sudbury Golf Club, he credited hard work and his new coach Neil Jordan for Sunday's sensational result:
Jordan himself enjoyed what he had just witnessed:
Wiesberger knew coming into the final round he needed to win the tournament to make sure he'd make the cut for the US Open, making the play-off loss particularly harsh. The Austrian played a solid round of golf to finish with a score of 69, but he just ran into an unleashed Lundberg.
As shared by eDraftSports' Kieran Clark, all hope for a US Open berth is not yet lost:
Luiten took the clubhouse lead into the final day of the 2014 Lyoness Open, but a bad start to his round saw that lead evaporate in a hurry. Two bogeys in his first five holes opened the door for Wiesberger and Lundberg to catch up to the defending champion, and with the pressure on, Luiten's putting started to suffer.
The Dutchman tried to keep pace with the duo but failed to put together a consistent round, and as shared by The European Tour's Twitter account, a bogey on the 14th effectively ended his hopes of defending his title:
A final round of 72 saw Luiten drop to third place, a disappointing end to a tournament he could (and maybe should) have won.
Miguel Angel Jimenez looked very strong in his opening round in Austria but tumbled down the leaderboard on Day 2, finishing with a score of three-over 75. A strong final day at the Lyoness Open saw the Spaniard climb back into the top five, a good omen for the upcoming US Open.
Jimenez finished the day with a round of 67, his best score of the tournament, as shared by Golf Central:
The veteran impressed with a beautiful eagle on the 13th and finished strong on the front-nine with two birdies on the final four holes. Jimenez looked calm and relaxed throughout the day, and even amused the crowd with a little dance following a great shot:
Wiesberger will have to wait for several results from all over the world to come in to know whether or not he'll make the final cut for Pinehurst, and following his excellent display in Austria, fans have to hope the 28-year-old makes it.
One of the bright spots along with Lundberg and Jimenez, the European trio would make the US Open all the more enjoyable, and with the excellent form they all seem to be carrying, they would only make a deep field of European players that much stronger.
Round 3 Recap
What a difference a day can make on the European Tour.
After to stellar rounds of 67 and 68, Mikael Lundberg entered the weekend leading the 2014 Lyoness Open. That changed in drastic fashion on Saturday after a poor round of 76.
Suddenly playing at a very inconsistent level, Lundberg recorded a dreadful triple bogey at the par-three third and followed that up with five more bogeys throughout his round.
Lundberg featured some crisp iron work on approach shots over the first two days of the tournament, recording 13 greens in regulation in both rounds. His struggles were apparent on Saturday, as that number dropped to 10.
Here's a look at the current leaderboard following Lundberg's plummet in Round 3:
|Lyoness Open 2014 Day 3 Leaderboard|
*six players tied at four under.
Joost Luiten took full advantage of Lundberg's slide down the leaderboard.
He went out in 31 after a brilliant five-birdie front nine. Despite a bogey on the par-three 14th, he recovered nicely recording birdies on two of the next three holes to finish with a six-under 66 on the day.
Luiten's ball striking was simply impeccable on Saturday. He hit 11-of-14 fairways and 16 greens in regulation. He did struggle with the flat stick a bit, needing 30 putts on the day, but his round was good enough to give him a two-stroke lead heading into Sunday.
According to a tweet from the European Tour, Luiten will look to be the first player to ever defend his title at the Lyoness Open:
Bernd Wiesberger matched Luiten's 66 on the day with a solid round of his own.
A four-birdie front nine led to a 32, which he followed up with a three-birdie, one-bogey back nine of 34.
Like Luiten, Weisberger's approach shots on the day were near flawless. He hit 16 greens in regulation and capitalized on most with 28 putts on the day.
At nine under for the tournament, he'll join Luiten in Sunday's final pairing.
Luiten spoke of his performance on Saturday, and his pairing with Weisberger on Sunday, during a press conference with EuropeanTour.com:
I'm happy, 66 is good. It could have been a bit lower as I was playing really well, especially the first 12 holes, but it's been a really good day. I've been playing consistently and hitting some good shots and making some good putts.
All I can do is focus on this tournament now and playing here, next week is a new week. I am in a good position so I just want to finish it off tomorrow and see if we can win again here.
I know Bernd is a good player so it will be a very good battle and there are a few more guys behind who are not out of it yet. It's going to be an interesting day.
The field remains close with Fabrizio Zanotti remaining at seven under for the tournament after an even-par 72 on Saturday, and Adam Gee is nipping at his heels at six under through three rounds.
David Horsey had the round of the day with a 65, setting a new course record, according to a tweet from Golf Central:
Should the weather continue to be favorable, expect plenty of low numbers on Sunday. With eight players within five strokes of Luiten's lead, we should be in for some drama-filled, intense action on the tournament's final day.
Round 2 Recap
Overnight leader Mikael Lundberg continued his stellar form on Day 2 of the Lyoness Open in Austria, adding a 68 to Thursday’s 67 to put him in command at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend.
There generous conditions had a significant improvement on scores from Day 1, with the European Tour revealing on Instagram the extend of the warmth in Atzenbrugg:
Here’s a look at the top 10 of the leaderboard after Day 2’s play:
|Lyoness Open 2014 Day 2 Leaderboard|
Swedish star Lunberg got off to the perfect start on the way to his four-under-par 68, making four birdies in a row on holes three to six in favourable morning conditions.
Though he did have one blemish on the card at the par-four eighth, his birdie on the 12th saw him post his nine-under total at the top of the Lyoness Open leaderboard.
Speaking after his round, the 40-year-old revealed that he wasn’t at all surprised with his strong form this week, with hard work starting to pay off—per European Tour:
I hit a lot of good shots early on and managed to make some putts, so that got my confidence up. It’s a nice feeling when you get your distance control right with your wedges, because it takes a lot of pressure on your putting. It got tougher and tougher the longer the round went on, because the course got really firm and fast towards the end, so whilst it may look and feel easy, it never is. I’ve been doing some great work with my new coach, Neil Jordan, over the last few weeks, and my game is feeling a lot more solid as a result. So whilst I didn’t maybe expect to play this well here, it’s not a complete shock to me either.
The Swede has looked in complete control with his short irons since the start of the tournament, but his putting is where he’s really flourished.
Per European Tour, Lundberg has taken just 41 putts over Thursday and Friday’s rounds, getting the flat-stick out just 21 times on Day 2.
If he continues to produce an impressive short game on the fiddly Diamond County Club course, then he may well be in contention come Sunday evening.
Though Lundberg’s round was good, it was Englishman Lee Slattery that stole the show with the low round of the day, posting a six-under 66 to put him in second place.
With five birdies and an eagle, Slattery moved into second place on eight under after his opening day 70.
Speaking with the European Tour after Friday’s 66, Slattery said that he was enjoying himself on a difficult course:
I got off to a decent start again today, and I was off and running. I made some good up and downs at important times, which kept the momentum going. It’s a tricky course, there are potential disasters on every hole so you definitely can’t afford to get ahead of yourself. It’s quite old school golf where you’ve got to control your ball and put it in the right places. That suits me, so I’m enjoying it.
Elsewhere, defending champion Joost Luiten shot a flawless 67 on Friday to put himself four shots back of Lundberg, while Thursday’s leader Adam Gee slipped back into a tie for seventh after a one-over-par 73.
With such a congested leaderboard, there’s bound to be drama heading into the weekend at the Diamond Country Club.
Low scores are very much a possibility if players can show good course management in Atzenbrugg and if Lundberg can maintain his form then he’ll be hard to catch at the top.
Round 1 Recap
Adam Gee and Mikael Lundberg finished Round 1 of the 2014 Lyoness Open at the Diamond Country Club in Austria tied for first on the clubhouse leaderboard with a score of five-under 67.
Windy conditions had a big impact on the first day of action, with few players able to truly distinguish themselves from the top 20 with low overall scores.
Here's a look at the Day 1 leaderboard:
|2014 Lyoness Open Day 1 Leaderboard|
Gee was excellent on the front nine and kept up the pace with an eagle on the 13th hole, but a bogey on the 18th kept him from improving his lead over the rest of the pack.
Lundberg, who was one of the last golfers to start his opening round, shot three under on the back nine and scored a single bogey on the second hole. Excellent control of his short game allowed him to keep pace with Gee for the remainder of the front nine, and a birdie on the vaunted eighth hole made sure both men would share the lead after the first day of competition.
One of the early starters, Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti was flawless on the front nine, scoring four birdies and taking the lead with a score of 32. His play regressed slightly on the back nine, however, with one bogey and par the rest of the way. His final score of three-under 69 was still good enough for the early clubhouse lead.
Miguel Angel Jimenez sits just one stroke off Zanotti, shaking off a difficult start to end the day with a two-under 70.
Jimenez started on the back nine and recorded three bogeys on his first nine holes, but a front-nine score of 33 including three birdies has the Spaniard in a strong position as he looks for his third win of the season.
The Lyoness Open holds a special place in his heart, as this is where he met his wife, Susanne, three years ago. The European Tour's Twitter account posted this photo of the couple:
Local hero Bernd Wiesberger is in dire need of a win in order to qualify for the U.S. Open, and a double bogey on the eighth hole contributed to a first-round score of one-under 71.
Wiesberger tweeted out his frustration with his opening round, particularly the double bogey that could cost him dearly:
The former winner opened on the back nine with a bogey on his very first hole but put together a strong first round, before finding water hazard on the second-to-last hole.
England's Richard Bland dealt with the windy conditions well, playing a near-flawless round to finish with a three-under 69. Talking to EuropeanTour.com, he confirmed the wind made things difficult, while praising the state of the course:
It wasn’t easy. It played a bit different the Pro-Am yesterday, when it was flat calm and 25 degrees. It played tough today in the wind, and the tough par fours were playing into the wind, which made scoring even harder, so a 69 was pretty good going. It’s a very tough track which tests every part of your game, but the fact that it’s in such good condition makes life a lot easier for us.
Like many other players, Bland scored a bogey on the eighth hole, but back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth and two more on the back nine helped the 41-year-old finish with a very respectable score.
Jimenez has been in sensational form in 2014 and will go into his round on Friday as the favourite for the overall win. A few mistakes on the back nine were all that plagued him on Thursday, and if he can clean up his short game a little bit, the challenging course should be in favour.
Wiesberger will have to come out as aggressive on Friday as he was in his opening round and hope bad luck doesn't continue to haunt him. A top-two finish is needed if the Austrian wants to qualify for the U.S. Open, so playing it conservative is not an option.
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