Golf: Sudden death brings Azinger back to life

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The Independent Online
PAUL AZINGER birdied the 16th hole twice in 45 minutes yesterday to win his second BMW International Open title after a sudden-death play-off in Munich yesterday. The American, who beat David Feherty with a birdie at the same hole in a play-off two years ago, holed from six feet this time to beat off four other players.

It was 45 minutes earlier that Azinger, who closed with a 67, sank a putt from nine feet for his fourth birdie to squeeze into a tie with Bernhard Langer, Anders Forsbrand, Glen Day and Britain's Mark James.

All five finished on 266, 22 under par, but it was Azinger who held his nerve when the players returned to the 16th tee. Forsbrand lost his chance by nudging an approach into the water hazard, while James and Day overshot the green. As for Langer, carrying the hopes of the Bavarian crowd, he saw his birdie putt from 15 feet graze the hole.

Azinger, meanwhile, calmly sank his ball for victory. 'That hole has been good to me,' he said. 'It's been a long time since I had a putt to win a tournament - since February of last year, in fact, for that was really sweet.' Azinger almost ruined his prospects with a three-iron which finished a foot short of the red hazard line near the lake at the first play-off hole. His second shot, though, covered the flag all the way.

'I putted exceptionally well, but it wasn't until the back nine that I started to hole a few,' he said. 'I've lost my only two play-offs in the States but I'm now two out of two in Europe. It certainly helps my confidence greatly for the US PGA at St Louis this week. I'm playing well again and starting to make some putts.'

Sandy Lyle's attempt to retain his title ended when he finished with a bogey six after driving into the water hazard. 'I needed an eagle to have a chance. It was an expensive error,' he said. For James, however, it was a welcome return to form as he added pounds 33,262 to his season's earnings of pounds 45,000.

James came home in 31 for a final round of 64 to earn his sudden-death place, while Day - a little-known American on his second year in Europe - had a 65. Langer (66) and the Swede Forsbrand (67) completed the line-up, with the German unable to repeat his play-off victory in the Dutch Open a fortnight ago.

The Scot Colin Montgomerie also closed with a round of 64 to finish two strokes behind the leaders, sharing sixth place with Denmark's Steen Tinning.

BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN (Munich) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 266 M James 69 66 67 64; G Day (US) 66 70 65 65; B Langer (Ger) 66 69 65 66; P Azinger (US) 66 67 66 67; A Forsbrand (Swe) 68 65 66 67 (Azinger won at first hole of sudden-death play-off). 268 C Montgomerie 65 67 72 64; S Tinning (Den) 70 62 70 66. 269 S Lyle 70 67 65 67. 270 F Nobilo (NZ) 68 68 71 63; S McAllister 70 66 67 67; R McFarlane 67 68 67 68; D Clarke 68 62 71 69; C Rocca (It) 65 69 66 70). 271 D Gilford 67 68 68 68; J Spence 68 68 65 70. 272 P Fowler (Aus) 67 67 70 68; M Jiminez (Sp) 69 67 67 69; D Feherty 66 67 69 70; C Pavin (US) 71 64 66 71. 273 M Mackenzie 66 71 69 67; D Mijovic (Can) 67 70 68 68. 274 A Mednick (Swe) 66 70 68 70; G J Brand 69 68 66 71. 275 S Grappasonni (Italy) 67 71 69 68; A Cejka (Ger) 69 68 69 69; D J Russell 69 69 67 70. 276 A Sherborne 69 70 72 65; R Chapman 68 65 77 66; P Walton 66 68 73 69; A Sorensen (Den) 68 69 70 69; P Teravainen (US) 68 69 69 70; R Claydon 67 70 68 71; M Martin (Spain) 66 71 68 71; H Baiocchi (SA) 70 68 66 72. 277 I Spencer 67 72 71 67; G Brand Jnr 69 69 70 69; D Love III (US) 71 68 69 69; B Ogle (Aus) 67 69 71 70; M Clayton (Aus) 68 71 68 70; R Davis (Aus) 70 67 68 72. 278 D Curry 69 70 71 68; K Trimble (Aus) 69 70 71 68; M Moreno (Spain) 70 67 72 69. 279 W Riley (Aus) 67 70 75 67; G Levenson (SA) 70 69 72 68; S Luna (Spain) 70 67 73 69; H-P Thuel (Ger) 69 69 72 69; D Cooper 68 71 69 71; J Carter (US) 69 70 69 71. 280 R Berhorst (Ger) 68 71 71 70; S Richardson 67 71 71 71; J M Carriles (Spain) 68 68 72 72; T Levet (Fra) 65 72 71 72; R Lee 66 72 69 73.

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