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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > European Tour > Andalucia Open > Round 4


Niclas Fasth clinches victory in playoff

Sweden's Niclas Fasth took the Spanish Open title on Sunday after a sudden-death playoff with Briton John Bickerton.

Fasth holed a five-foot birdie putt at the fourth extra hole after both players had finished on 18-under-par 270, a stroke ahead of the field.

While Bickerton equalled the San Roque New course record with a closing 63, Fasth bogeyed the final two holes for a 69 which forced him into a playoff.

Despite his stumbling finish, the Swede was able to celebrate his 34th birthday from the previous day by collecting a $340,000 first prize for his fourth European Tour title, three of them having come in playoffs.

Both players parred the 18th three times in the playoff and the title was decided at the ninth.

Bickerton missed the green and holed a 12ft par putt, but then Fasth, who had struck a nine-iron 145 yards to just five feet got the job done.

Fasth said: "I knew what I had to do at the last couple of holes and I didn't do it, so I am not happy about that. But you just have to bounce back. A playoff can be very tiring because it's been a long day but I didn't give up."

The Swede had looked certain to win in proper time after Denmark's Thomas Bjorn faded.

Bjorn had birdied five of the first six holes to establish a three-stroke lead but a four-putt double-bogey on the eighth heralded the Dane's downfall and when he missed a four-footer to bogey the last he had to be content with a share of third place.

Bickerton's flawless card with nine birdies, including two at the last three holes, set the target as he equalled Robert Karlsson's course record of the second round.

The 36-year-old Briton earned more than twice the amount he won for his maiden victory last year at the Canaries Open and prize money of $226,000 ensures him a card for next year.

Overnight leader David Griffiths of England, ahead by two, slipped to a disappointing 72 and a share of third place.

Pre-Tournament favourite Colin Montgomerie had to settle for 28th place nine strokes away from the playoff after a closing 71.

Fasth's victory moved him up to 12th on the Ryder Cup table, with the top 10 qualifying automatically. He is 11th on Europe's money-list.



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