Fasth stumbles to victory in Spanish Open play-off

A day after his 34th birthday Swede Niclas Fasth had two more things to celebrate tonight - the fourth victory of his European tour career and a big leap up the Ryder Cup table.

The Ascot-based player, a member of the triumphant 2002 team at The Belfry, won the Spanish Open at San Roque on the fourth hole of a play-off with England's John Bickerton.

And as well as the usual fist-pump from Fasth when he sank his winning five-foot birdie putt came a massive sigh of relief.

Bickerton was eight behind at the start of the final round and even with a course record-equalling 63 thought he had come up just short.

But Fasth, two ahead with two to play, bogeyed them both to fall into a tie on the 18 under par mark of 270.

They then parred the 18th three times before switching to the ninth, where tables and chairs laid out on the green for the presentation ceremony had to be hastily removed.

Bickerton, who had his first tour win in Tenerife last October, pulled his second shot up against the hospitality tent and Fasth took the opportunity presented to him to grab the £190,464 first prize.

It moves him up from 17th to 12th in the race for places in Ian Woosnam's side for the K Club near Dublin in September.

Fasth won twice last season - both in play-offs and each time with a birdie. He is making a habit of it, but as long as he keeps winning them he will not mind one bit.

Most disappointed player had to be Dane Thomas Bjorn. Five birdies in his first six holes took him from three behind overnight leader David Griffitish into a three-shot lead.

But Bjorn four-putted the short eighth for a double bogey and at the last missed a five-foot par putt that would have put him in the play-off.

Instead he finished in a six-way tie for third with Griffiths - his best finish on tour - fellow Englishman Phillip Archer, Scot Gary Orr, Swede Mattias Eliasson and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara.

Colin Montgomerie double-bogeyed the last for a 71 which meant he ended up joint 28th.

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