Speechless Swede Marcus Kinhult wins first European Tour title
The 22-year-old birdies final two holes for victory.
Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult was lost for words after producing a brilliant finish to claim his first European Tour title in a thrilling climax to the British Masters at Hillside.
Kinhult’s chances looked to have gone when he surrendered a one-shot lead with bogeys on the 15th and 16th.
But the 22-year-old birdied the final two holes to finish a shot ahead of defending champion Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre.
Pepperell had set the clubhouse target on 15 under after a closing 66 before MacIntyre produced a stunning eagle-birdie finish to join him at the top of the leaderboard.
A four-man play-off looked on the cards when Kinhult birdied the 17th and playing partner Wallace missed from four feet.
But after Wallace also missed for birdie on the last, Kinhult holed from 12 feet to seal a remarkable win and secure the £500,000 first prize.
“I’m speechless, I don’t know what happened the last two holes,” said Kinhult, who won the prestigious Lytham Trophy as an amateur but had missed his last four halfway cuts. “I was behind Matt and he looked really solid but I birdied 17 and all of a sudden I had a putt to win – it’s incredible.
“I have never felt that pressure before. Richie (Ramsay) gave me a good read so I just tried to do the same thing and holed it.
“There’s a lot going through my mind, a lot of emotions and I am just so happy that I managed to handle those pretty well. It’s really special. I have been waiting for this moment for 20 years.”
Pepperell began the day five shots off the lead shared by Kinhult and Wallace, but carded six birdies in a flawless 66, the joint-lowest score of the day, which also included what looked to be a vital up-and-down for par on the 18th.
“It was a good round, very steady really and the whole week I only made two bogeys actually, which for me is remarkable,” Pepperell said. “I kind of set myself a target of 17 under at the turn and was not far off that. But fair play to Marcus. He’s been a good player for a while, so it’s good to see.”
MacIntyre recovered from a double-bogey seven on the second to storm home in 31, the 22-year-old left-hander hitting a five-wood to three feet on the 17th and a six-iron from 203 yards to a similar distance on the last.
“To finish that way was fantastic. I had to go for it in the end,” MacIntyre said after his best finish on the European Tour. “It was all or nothing. We were between clubs at 17 but that wind suited us. That’s the best shot I’ve hit in a long time.
“I had been there or thereabouts but never managed to get in the thick of it and I was disappointed about that. Today couldn’t have been a better day to change that, playing with Tommy (Fleetwood) and in front of those big crowds. It was brilliant.”
The 18th fairway. 205 yards. You need to get up-and-down...— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 12, 2019
The stage is yours Robert MacIntyre... pic.twitter.com/GRBUIFaS6p
Tournament host Fleetwood had an eagle putt on the 11th to get within a shot of the lead, but left it short and dropped three shots in the last seven holes to finish in a tie for eighth.
“My own performance wasn’t good particularly, from start to finish I didn’t hit it great,” the Southport-born 28-year-old said. “Things maybe caught up with me in the end.
“But I couldn’t have asked for more from the event. First event I ever had a part in hosting and brought it to Southport and you never know how it’s going to go. It’s been amazing.”