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Matt Wallace wins Indian Open


England's Matt Wallace beat British compatriot Andrew 'Beef" Johnston at the 1st extra hole of their sudden-death playoff in the Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi on Sunday.

In capturing his second European Tour title since graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2016, the 27-year-old six footer from Hillingdon, who shared the lead with home favourite Shubhankar Sharma at the start of the day, shot a 4-under 68 to close with an 11-under 277 total.

It wasn't enough to give him an outright victory because Johnson, who was in 4th place when he teed off on Sunday, was able to reel him in and force the play-off by closing with a 6-under 66 and a matching total.

And Sharma? The little-known 21-year-old who, until he suddenly stood up and became the first, and, so far, the only man to win two European Tour titles this year, once again, just as he did at the WGC-Mexico Championship a week ago, stumbled at the final hurdle, on this occasion to finish with a 3-over 75.

And yes, all this after grabbing a share of the lead on moving Saturday and looking set to become the 4th consecutive Indian winner of his nation's national Open after Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and Shiv Chaurasia in 2016 and 2017. 

Perhaps because of his recent rigorous Tour schedule, it never happened. In the end, he had to settle for a 6th-place tie with Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (72) and Scot Stephen Gallacher (74).    

In the meantime, there was nothing of the sort in the confident Wallace's case. He immediately attacked the pin at the first extra hole, crushing a huge drive down the par-five 18th and then finding the green with a magnificent second.

Against this the more cautious Johnson layed-up only to see his birdie attempt lip out and leave his rival with two putts to win. 

And Wallace didn't waste them. he rolled the first to within a few centimetres of the hole and then tapped in for his second Tour victory since his triumph at the Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort.

"I played great," Wallace enthused afterwards. "Ever since being three over through eight at the start of the week I've played some of the best golf of my life and to do it in that style at the end there capped it off.

"There are some great champions (engraved on the Indian Open trophy). SSP (Chawrasia) held it for a couple of years there and I am so happy to get my name on it as well

"I asked on 15 what the score was. I didn't hit many great iron shots on the back nine, but I knew where I stood. I like to know what I have to do."

And yes, Wallace did what he had to do, alright.

American Siwan Kim looked to be in contention coming down the closing stretch after birdies on the 2nd, 4th, 7th, 9th and 11th holes but his bogey on the last ended any hopes he may have had of making the playoff and he had to settle for a solo second place

Larrazábal also saw his chances disappear with a disappointing finish. 

After making birdies at the 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th, 11th and 13th holes, he dropped two shots the 16th and 17th to finish in a tie for 3rd with promising Austrian Q-School graduate Matthias Schwab.

(Par 72)

277 Matt Wallace (Eng) 69 70 70 68, Andew Johnson (Eng) 72 66 73 66 (Wallace won then playoff at the 1st extra hole)     
280 Sihwan Kim (USA) 70 70 72 68    
281 Pablo Larrazábal (Esp) 67 71 74 69, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 71 72 68 70    
283 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 65 68 78 72, Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 72 71 67 74, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 64 72 75    
286 Choi Jin-ho (Kor) 72 71 72 71, Luiten Joost (Ned) 71 69 74 72, Aaron Rai (Eng) 71 73 69 73  
287 Keith Horne (RSA) 66 73 80 68, Robert Rock (Eng) 73 73 74 67, Clément Sordet (Fra) 72 72 71 72, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) 74 68 72 73
288 Steven Brown (Eng) 74 71 70 73, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 69 70 79 70, Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 69 73 71 75, Gavin Green (Mas) 69 73 75 71, James Morrison (Eng) 70 72 77 69, Panupholo Pittayarat (Tha) 69 70 76 73    
289 Casey O'Toole (USA) 74 66 77 72, Grégory Havret (Fra) 73 72 73 72    
290 Paul Peterson (USA) 67 73 73 77. 

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Neville Leck

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