Jacobson finishes classic fight in play-off

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The Independent Online

There may have some wonky swings in there at the end, but ultimately Fredrik Jacobson won it. Not even Tiger Woods was immune from the perils of the 17th hole at Valderrama. In the World Championship here in 1999, the world No 1 saw one of his best shots of a brilliant final round end in the pond in front of the green. Woods did go on to win the tournament but only after a play-off against that day's local hero, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Carlos Rodiles, like Jimenez, is from Malaga and most of Andalucia - the Spanish, that is, not the expats - turned up to see their man attempting to win the Volvo Masters yesterday. They cheered endlessly at what appeared to be a crucial moment, when Jacobson went in the pond at the 17th to go from one ahead to two behind.

Rodiles immediately signalled for the gallery to pipe down, showing that the 28-year-old is a class act in all senses in a week when the Royal and Ancient announced stricter guidelines for etiquette. But then Jacobson is also a class act and he put his approach at the last to two feet.

Since Rodiles had pulled his drive and could only make a bogey, the Swede had fought back to get into a play-off. The pair had played 54 holes alongside each other over the weekend, following Friday's wash-out, and clearly were enjoying the duel too much to stop there.

At least they did finish, unlike last year when it got too dark for Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie to continue their play-off. But it took four holes and they would not have been able to play another, Both players suffering heart-stopping moments.

Jacobson got away with a pulled drive at the first extra hole on the 18th, where Rodiles had a chance to end it with an eight-footer which finished on the lip. At the 18th again, Jacobson hit a poor second but chipped and putted for a par and another half.

Moving to the 10th, the Swede almost sliced his drive into the water but the ball finished inches from the edge of the pond. From an awkward stance he made the green and both parred again.

Back at the 18th for the third time in the play-off, and the fifth time for the day, Rodiles now carved his drive right and could only chip sideways. Jacobson hit his approach to 10 feet and eventually won with a par to end the monumental battle.

Jacobson won £406,000 for his third win of the season and the biggest title of his career. The 29-year-old fully deserved it for his courage all week in following a bad hole with a good one and never giving up despite the fluctuating circumstances.

Rodiles just missed becoming the first player to make this title his maiden title but did his reputation no end of good. Langer, the Ryder Cup captain for next year's match, will have been impressed. There will be a number of new faces in his team and these could well be two of them.

Rodiles had led by two when they resumed their third rounds at the 13th but the Spaniard had to birdie the last to tie Jacobson at the 54-hole mark. Twice Jacobson went ahead early in the final round, but when he bogeyed the 10th after a wild drive they seemed to become inexorably tied.

They both birdied the par-five 11th but it took until the 16th to divide them again. Both drove poorly, Rodiles left, Jacobson right. Jacobson could only chip out sideways from the trees but put his third to five feet to save par. Rodiles had a view of the green but finished on a bank of a bunker, chipped to 12 feet and missed the putt.

Jacobson went left with his next drive but it was his third that spun back into the water and he would take a double-bogey seven. Rodiles pitched beautifully to four feet for a birdie but his lead would be cancelled out by the two-shot swing at the last to leave both men on 12 under after rounds of 70. With Anders Hansen falling away after a two-stroke penalty for playing Jacobson's ball at the fourth, it had been a matchplay-like duel all day. No one else could reach them, but London's Brian Davis closed with a 66 to take third with John Bickerton in fourth.

VOLVO MASTERS (Valderrama) Leading final scores (GB or irl unless stated): 276 F Jacobson 64 71 71 70, C Rodiles (Sp) 68 69 69 70 (Jacobson won at fourth play-off hole). 279 B Davis 71 73 69 66. 282 J Bickerton 71 72 70 69. 284 S Leaney (Aus) 77 72 67 68, G Owen 73 67 73 71. 286 M Campbell (NZ) 75 69 74 68, S Garcia (Sp) 71 71 73 71. 287 I Poulter 74 72 73 68 288, J M Olazabal (Sp) 70 75 70 73, C Montgomerie 71 74 70 73, A Scott (Aus) 72 75 68 73. 289 P Casey 77 70 73 69, A Cabrera (Arg) 71 74 73 71, D Clarke 77 72 68 72, N O'Hern (Aus) 70 78 69 72, B Dredge 72 73 71 73, J Moseley (Aus) 73 72 70 74. 290 P Harrington 76 74 70 70, A Hansen (Den) 66 73 73 78. 291 P Fowler (Aus) 72 79 70 70, M A Jimenez (Sp) 75 72 73 71, D Fichardt (SA) 73 72 74 72.

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