Hertfordshire’s Matt Wallace birdied the first extra hole to claim play-off victory over Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston at the Hero Indian Open.
In what turned out to be something of a north-west London derby, Johnston fired a bogey-free 66 at DLF Golf and Country Club in Delhi to set the clubhouse target at 11 under, which overnight joint-leader Wallace joined by closing out a four-under 68.
The two players returned to the par-five 18th, where Johnston elected to lay up and make par as Wallace attacked the green in two and two-putted for birdie to secure a second European Tour title.
Beginning the day in a share of the lead, Wallace and home favoruite Shubhankar Sharma exchanged birdies at the second, before the Englishman drained a 25-footer to match his playing partner’s gain at the fourth.
Sharma lost his share of the advantage when he found water off the fifth tee on his way to a double-bogey, as Wallace holed from 30 feet at the par-four next to briefly go three clear.
Johnston posted back-to-back gains from the eighth to reach the turn in 32 and join the group sharing second. Wallace chipped in from off the 10th green, but Johnston stayed in touch with a five-foot birdie at the 13th.
A two-shot swing saw Johnston – playing in the group ahead – roll in from 10 feet to birdie the 17th, as Wallace recovered from thinning into a bunker from the rough at the 16th to get up-and-down for bogey.
Johnston elected to lay up at the par-five last, and posted a two-putt par to set the clubhouse target, which Wallace matched before winning on the first extra play-off hole.
Wallace, who won his maiden European Tour title at the Open de Portugal last May, said: “I’m ecstatic. I just played some amazing golf. Beef really had a great round today, because I was playing fantastic and thought I might have been a few more clear. I hit some really good shots in that play-off. I pumped it down there with a driver on the last and then the four-iron went approach went even further than I thought it would, as the adrenalin was really pumping. To hit two shots like that, under that kind of pressure, is exactly why I play the game.”
The victory, which came with a first prize of €235,495, saw the Moor Park man jump into the world’s top 100 for the first time in his career, moving from 152 to 94th.
For Johnson, who was also gunning for his second tour title, there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament. “Overall, I feel good about this week, as I played very well, and was pleased to be able to post a score today and force a playoff. Lipping out for the birdie was frustrating, as I knew that line, but sometimes they just don’t drop for you.
“I’m very happy with the way I’ve played this year. Last year was tough. This year’s start has been good, so I just got to keep pushing on and keep working hard.”