Sweden's Joakim Lagergren clinched a dramatic first victory on the European Tour as he beat France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera in a play-off at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
Day four report
Sweden's Joakim Lagergren clinched a dramatic first victory on the European Tour by beating France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera in a play-off at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
Lagergren birdied the first extra hole at Verdura Golf Club after he and overnight leader Lorenzo-Vera had finished tied on 16 under par.
Australia's Lucas Herbert carded a brilliant closing 63 to finish a shot behind alongside England's Andy Sullivan, with Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard another stroke adrift.
"I've been waiting for this moment my whole career," said Lagergren, who recorded four birdies and a solitary bogey in a final round of 68.
"I'm so relieved and I'm so happy at the moment, I can't describe it in words. I've just been fighting so hard to get to here, it's just awesome.
"When you're just missing out a few times you really want to get that first win and it feels like you really need to get over that first step to then really continue and get more and more. This is a big step for me."
Lorenzo-Vera began the day with a two-shot lead but could only card a closing 70 to record his second consecutive runners-up finish after losing out in the final of GolfSixes alongside Romain Wattel last week.
"What can I say? He made a birdie on the play-off hole and I didn't really have a chance," Lorenzo-Vera said. "It was the kind of day where I was a bit far from the pins so it was hard to score low for me. He took his chance better than me.
"I gave it a go, I tried my best, he did it better than me. Now I'm just going to have to work more to be able to finish the job."
Day three report
Mike Lorenzo Vera took over from Lucas Bjerregaard at the top of the leaderboard after three rounds of the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily.
The Frenchman, seeking his first European Tour win, followed Friday's 64 with a blemish-free 63 to reach 15-under and mark himself down as the man to beat ahead of Sunday's final round.
"If I bring the good game, I can win for sure," Lorenzo-Vera told europeantour.com said. "If someone just doesn't go crazy and shoot 10 under if it's good weather, I'll have a really good chance.
"I think it was better today. Everything came together around the turn so it was cool. It was easier for sure, but in that case you have to be careful because you can lose your focus and you know someone is going to shoot low, so you just have to play the game and try to keep calm, wait for the birdies to come."
Alongside him, Sweden's Joakim Lagergren also shot 63, his round including five birdies in succession around the turn, but a late bogey saw the 26-year-old fall two shots back and into a share of second alongside Julien Guerrier, with Bjerregaard one further back.
Bjerregaard started his round in disastrous fashion as his blocked iron off the first tee flew right of the fairway and, after the Dane could not find his ball, he had to settle for a double-bogey.
Birdies at the third and fifth before an eagle at the par-five ninth saw our 50/1 headline tip get back into the mix, a round of 69 enough to see him finish the day three adrift of Lorenzo Vera.
Guerrier had taken over in front when Bjerregaard faltered and continued his serene progress, making birdies at the fourth, 10th and 12th while matching his playing partner's eagle at the ninth.
The Challenge Tour graduate remained bogey-free for the tournament heading to the par-four 17th hole where a mistake looked set to end that sequence, but an excellent recovery shot enabled him to scramble par.
However, another mistake at the last finally resulted in a bogey and a round of 67, handing Lorenzo Vera a two-shot advantage.
This quartet had pulled clear of Andy Sullivan and Andrea Pavan in a share of fifth, the former left frustrated at some missed opportunities but still bogey-free in a round of 65, while Pavan started the day with five birdies in succession but was unable to make any further progress.
Day two report
Julien Guerrier and Lucas Bjerregaard, the latter tipped at 50/1 prior to the event by our golf expert Ben Coley, share the lead at the halfway stage of the Rocco Forte Open at Verdura Golf Club.
Guerrier is the only player in the field yet to drop a shot after adding a 65 to his opening 68 to finish nine under par, a total later matched by joint overnight leader Bjerregaard, who returned a 68.
The English duo of Steven Brown and Ryan Evans are a shot off the pace after rounds of 66 and 69 respectively, with France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera another stroke back after a superb 64, the lowest score of the week so far in Sicily.
Guerrier regained his playing privileges via the Challenge Tour last season and is already on course for his best season on the European Tour thanks to finishing third in the NBO Oman Open and another top 10 in the Spanish Open.
"I'm playing really good," the 32-year-old said. "I made no bogeys so, in these conditions, in two rounds, to make no bogeys is really good.
"I come from La Rochelle where it's very windy so I think it helped me a lot. I also won the Amateur Championship (at Royal St George's in 2006) so I think I like the windy conditions but it's just two rounds. There are two more rounds so the road is long."
Bjerregaard held the outright lead after recovering from a bogey on the third with five birdies, but bogeyed the 16th as strong winds again made conditions more difficult for the later starters.
"It feels good, it was a battle out there," Bjerregaard said. "Everything from hitting the fairway to five-foot putts are really tough so I'm very happy with my game today.
"I got off to a slow start, didn't make birdie on two and four which you pretty much have to - especially in these conditions - so I got a little bit worried, but took advantage of some of the tougher holes and all in all I'm very pleased.
"It feels like this is a place where a lot can happen, there's a lot of golf left but I'm gaining confidence every day I'm playing like this. It's not been great so far this year but I'm starting to play a bit better and I'm just taking it all in and gaining a lot of confidence."
Day one report
Lucas Bjerregaard, tipped at 50/1 prior to the event by our golf expert Ben Coley, shares the lead after an opening 65 in the Rocco Forte Open.
Starting on the 11th, the Dane birdied his first hole and added six more before his solitary blemish came at his final hole when he ran up a bogey at the difficult 10th.
Still, it was a fine six-under start from the 26-year-old, who finished sixth in China two weeks ago before a disappointing exit from the GolfSixes when defending that title alongside Thorbjorn Olesen.
Ryan Evans overcame tough conditions and a disrupted preparation to share the lead with Bjerregaard.
Bjerregaard, who had missed four cuts in a row before finishing sixth in the Volvo China Open, carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey in his opening 65.
"I haven't played great this year but it feels like it's coming back a little bit now," he said. "It was a shame to finish off with a bogey, it would be have been nice to finish off with a clean card, but in these conditions I'm quite happy with 65.
"I haven't played well this year but I found something in China and the things I've been working on for quite a while now seem to be coming around a little bit.
"I'm not going to go out and expect a whole lot just because of today - there's a long way to go - but it's nice to hit some good shots and play a bit better."
Bjerregaard and Evans enjoy a two-shot lead over Spain's Scott Fernandez, Brazil's Adilson da Silva and the English trio of Andy Sullivan, Marcus Armitage and Daniel Brooks.
Defending champion Alvaro Quiros struggled to an opening 79.