Victor Perez hailed “a bit of magic” after defying all odds to beat Ryan Fox on the fourth hole of a sudden death playoff and win the Dutch Open.
Fox seemed confident of winning in regulation as he pocketed for a birdie on the 11th, pocketed for an eagle from 80 feet on the 12th, and pocketed for a birdie on the 14th from 45 feet to gain a three-shot lead build up.
However, the 35-year-old New Zealander ran into a water hazard on the 18th, missed the green on his approach and duffed his fourth shot into a green bunker to run up a double bogey seven.
Playing two groups behind, Perez holed for a birdie from 35 feet on the 17th to take part of the lead at 13 under par and make an excellent approach into the last, but missed from seven feet for a winning birdie.
Players returned to the par-5 18 and Perez had to hole out from 15 feet to equal Fox’s yardie on the first extra hole, with neither player being able to yardie on the second attempt.
Fox again had a hand on the trophy on the third extra hole when he found the green in two and set up a tap-in birdie only for Perez to pot from 30 feet to stay alive.
And Perez rubbed more salt in the wound when the action switched to the par-3 17 and the Frenchman potted another long-range putt for a birdie before a shocked Fox missed his.
“I have to be honest with myself that there’s quite a bit of luck potting all those long putts in the playoffs,” Perez told Sky Sports.
“It’s hard to put into words because it’s a long day and Ryan has been flying for a while. We didn’t even really think we had a chance.
“When I got 16th I knew I probably had to birdie the last three and James (his caddy) told me not to look at the leaderboard. I potted the putt on 17 and the checkoff was just a little bit of magic.
“I’ve been trying to focus on myself all day – that’s all I can do. I was trying to keep a champion mentality and hitting good shots and the chips would fall where they fall.
“It’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen in golf, guys come out of nowhere and win tournaments, guys take huge leads. You just have to focus on yourself and not look at the boards and I was just lucky to be on the good side today.”
Perez, Fox and Adrian Meronk – who finished a shot outside the playoffs – secured the three offered spots at St Andrews for the 150th Open Championship via the Open qualifying series.
Meronk’s final 68 included a remarkable par save on the eighth, the Pole stripping off his shoes and socks to wade in the water surrounding the green.
Meronk did well to splash his second shot onto the green and then holed in for an unlikely three from 45 feet.
England’s Matt Wallace, who started the day tied with Perez at the top, carded a final 72 to share fifth place with Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg.