Matteo Manassero has won the 2013 BMW PGA Championship in dramatic four-hole play-off. The Italian defeated Simon Khan (ENG) and Marc Warren (SCO) in extra time to win his fourth title on the European Tour since turning pro just three years ago. In doing so, the 20-year-old from Verona becomes the youngest ever winner of the European Tour’s flagship event, beating the previous record of Bernard Gallacher in 1969, who was 60 days older.
The final round at the Wentworth Club was full of twists and turns, with the lead changing hands regularly as challengers came and went over the course of the day. Manassero teed off in the penultimate flight, two shots behind overnight leader Alejandro Cañizares (ESP, T4, -9) and one back from tournament favourite Lee Westwood (ENG, T9, -7). As their challenge faded at the start of the back nine, thanks in Westwood’s case to a disastrous double-bogey on the 12th, Warren moved to the top of the leaderboard. At the same time, Khan shot a round of 66 to post an early target of -10.
Manassero, meanwhile, was playing beautifully consistent golf. Eventually, both he and Warren stepped onto the 18th tee on -10, knowing a birdie would be enough to beat Khan, who – as in 2010 when he came from behind to win the tournament – was watching on anxiously with his family. Both players had to settle for pars, and Warren, Manassero and Khan headed back to the 18th tee for a three-man play-off.
Warren was first to bow out. The Scotsman drilled his tee shot into the rhododendrons, forcing him to play his third shot from the tee. That found the ditch running across the fairway, from where he landed his ball in the water. That was game over after a fine tournament for the number 202 in the world.
And so there were two. And the pair matched each other shot for shot over the first three extra holes (the par-5 18th on each occasion). Then came the crucial moment. Khan went for the green with his second shot and came up just 30 centimetres short – in the water hazard. That left the door open for Manassero, and he made no mistake: the 20-year-old found the heart of the green with his second shot, meaning Khan needed something of a miracle. Having taken a drop, his fourth shot came up just short of the hole, leaving the Italian with two putts for victory. He put his first to within 6 inches and then, with emotion showing on his face, holed the birdie putt to claim the biggest win of his career so far and pick up a winner’s cheque for 791,660 Euros.
One of the most remarkable performances of the tournament came from 49-year-old Miguel Ángel Jiménez (ESP, T4, -9). Playing his 600th tournament on the European Tour, the Spaniard looked like missing the cut at +4 with four holes to play on Friday. But "The Mechanic" was not ready to go home yet, finishing with a hat-trick of birdies before then shooting consecutive rounds of 67 to finish on -9.