BMW SA Open: Hartlepool's Graeme Storm beats Rory McIlroy in sudden death play-off
Winning a top golf tournament is a special feeling.
But to do it beating the world number two is incredible – but that is just what Graeme Storm has achieved in lifting the BMW SA Open.
The Hartlepool golfer defeated Rory McIlroy in a sudden-death play-off in South Africa today after they tied level on 18 under par at the end of the last round.
Storm hit his approach to the heart of the 18th and made his par three times in the play-off, with McIlroy missing the green at the third attempt.
It left him an eight-foot putt for par that missed on the low side, leaving the proud Poolie as champion.
Storm and McIlroy had gone out in the final pairing at Glendower Golf Club and staged a terrific duel.
The 38-year-old had started the day with a three-shot lead over the Northern Irishman.
He birdied the third but when he suffered his first bogey in 55 holes – at the par three 14th – it seemed to open the door for McIlroy.
The 27-year-old had started at lightning pace with birdies at the first and second and by the time he got a four at the par five eighth, the duo were level.
And after reeling him in, he took the lead when he birdied the par five 13th which Storm could only par.
Both men birdied the final par five, the 15th, and the tournament favourite closed in on the title.
But McIlroy bogeyed the 200-yard 17th and that brought them back together at 18 under par.
McIlroy signed for a four-under-par 68 and Storm a one-under-par 71 to set up the dramatic finale with Storm holding his nerve for the championship.
Englishman Jordan Smith finished a shot out of the play-off after a 68, with Dean Burmester at 15 under, a shot clear of fellow South Africans Thomas Aiken and Trevor Fisher Jnr.
The win is Storm’s second on the European Tour – his first since the 2007 French Open – and he pocketed a cheque for £143,000.
Storm said: “I was saying to Rory in the walk up the fairway in the last play-off hole that this was actually the first time we had played together.
“To play 21 holes with him was just incredible.
“What a superb guy he is, an absolute gentleman.
“I think the best player in the world right now.
“And I have to say a few words on Jordan Smith. What a player he is going to be. He was brilliant today.”