Graeme Storm clinched the 2017 BMW SA Open crown on Sunday, beating Rory McIlroy in a play-off decider after the pair finished 72 holes level at 18 under par at Glendower Golf Course in Gauteng, South Africa.
Both Storm and McIlroy parred their first two attempts at the 18th hole in the play-off, but it was the latter who blinked first and conceded the title with a bogey on his third attempt. Storm sealed a third successive par to take the top prize of €164,409 (£144,000).
McIlroy spoke to the official European Tour website following his runner-up finish in South Africa, where he opted to see the silver lining of his close-run defeat:
Obviously it's disappointing to finish like that but Graeme has played well all week and what a story it for him. He thought he had lost his card at the end of last year and there he is now standing with a trophy in his hands after the first event of 2017. I'm delighted for him.
I wish I could have done a little more but it's not a bad way to start the season and gives me something to build on in the weeks ahead.
Jordan Smith finished in third place and was just one shot away from also taking part in the play-off; however, a bogey on the 17th meant he finished at 17 under and brought an early end to his day as Storm and McIlroy progressed.
Dean Burmester's fourth-round score of 69 (15 under) was enough to see him finish as the highest-placed South African player at fourth, closely followed by Thomas Aiken and Trevor Fisher Jr., who tied for fifth.
Read on for a recap of the action from the final day of the 2017 BMW SA Open, complete with a look at the leaderboard's final top 10 and a breakdown of the tournament's payouts, per the official European Tour website.
|2017 BMW SA Open Final Leaderboard|
|Pos.||Golfer||To Par||Round 4|
|T1||Graeme Storm (*Wins via play-off)||-18||71|
|5||Trevor Fisher Jr.||-14||69|
|2017 BMW SA Open: Top 10 Prize Money Payouts|
The leaderboard's top trio was left contending until the last hole on Sunday after a three-way battle between McIlroy, Storm and Smith erupted, resulting in a mighty head-to-head-to-head for the grand prize at Glendower.
McIlroy led Storm by a single shot before a bunker on the 17th stunted his progress at the 11th hour. The European Tour illustrated just how tight the podium prospects were heading into a terrific climax:
Storm couldn't quite reach the standards witnessed earlier in the competition—such as tying the course record of 63 on Day 2—and instead opted for a safer approach in his bid to see out the field and retain his lead.
The Englishman parred 15 holes on Day 4—along with recording two birdies and a bogey—and drew major praise for his stubborn outing against one of golf's major powers, such as this from broadcaster Nick Dougherty:
Per BBC Sport, McIlroy complained of back pains before Friday's session but persevered to play a Day 2 round of 68. He matched that result on Day 4, while Storm's 71 was enough to bag him a place in the play-off.
It wasn't until the 17th that McIlroy conceded his first and only bogey of the day following a superb front nine, per Bet365:
Each challenger parred his first play-off hole on the 18th before Storm almost edged ahead with a long-range birdie putt on his second attempt, which just trickled wide. Storm gathered to par that second attempt from five feet before McIlroy followed suit for a second time.
The third time proved to be the charm for Storm, and after lipping out on his birdie attempt, the 38-year-old converted to hole for par, while McIlroy left himself with too much to do and had to settle for second as a result:
Smith came close to challenging for a play-off berth and only just fell short after sealing his third consecutive round of 68 at Glendower. He snagged the bronze medal after he carded four birdies, two eagles, two bogeys and a double bogey.
Fisher Jr. went around the course in 69 and bagged a birdie on the 10th—one of five he snagged on Sunday—to go along with an eagle and four bogeys in what was a topsy-turvy day for him:
Unfortunately, it was far from a perfect result as far as the native talent was concerned. Burmester and Aiken had to settle for fourth and fifth, respectively, despite strong displays from the pair on Day 4.
Sweden's Alexander Bjork made big strides up the leaderboard on the final day of competition after sealing a 68, and he also recorded a bogey-free round for the second successive day.
However, the best performance of the day belonged to the Norwegian Espen Kofstad, who shot an impressive 65 and leaped 33 places up the standings, earning a bigger prize payout and a greater share of the Race to Dubai points on offer.
Storm comes away from Gauteng as the tournament's biggest winner, however, and he will be looking to bigger things for the remainder of 2017 after giving his year a boost with victory in South Africa.