Golf: Players wins play-off

Gary Player collected his third Senior Open title in a dramatic play-off with his fellow South African John Bland at Royal Portrush yesterday.

The pair had tied on 10-under-par 278 before Player rolled in a 15ft putt for a birdie four on the second extra hole (the 17th) to pick up the pounds 58,330 winner's cheque.

Player, starting out two behind Bland's eight under par, closed with a four-under-par 68, which he described as one of his two best rounds ever.

"I missed only one green and didn't hole anything outside two feet," he said. "I am particularly pleased with this trophy because I now have nine senior majors to match those I won on the regular tour."

Bland, who posted a final 70, said: "Gary played superbly today without holing a putt. At 61, he is still very, very good."

Noel Ratcliffe missed out on the play-off when he bogeyed the last hole for a 69 and tyhe Australian was left with a share of third place on 279.

The South Staffs club professional, Jim Rhodes, almost created a fairytale story with a superb last round of 68. He was the only English player battling with tournament-hardened internationals all day, at one stage sharing the lead at eight under with Ratcliffe and Bland. He finished up with a share of third with Ratcliffe and a cheque for pounds 19,705.

"I have never been under such pressure," he said. "But I coped with it well and I'm just thrilled to bits. I think I have given the club pros of this world a bit of encouragement."

Joanne Mills, of Australia, pitched in from 70 yards for an eagle three at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off to beat New Zealand's Lynnette Brooky in the German Open at Treudelberg in Hamburg yesterday.

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