John­ston seals Open spot as Wies­berger tri­umphs

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Golf - By Richard Bath at the Re­nais­sance Club

While events at the sun-baked Scot­tish Open were never likely to match the py­rotech­nics at Lord’s or on Cen­tre Court, golf ’s finest did their best to ramp up the drama here.

A stel­lar nine-un­der fi­nal round of 62 from Ben­jamin He­bert, plus the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the overnight leader Bernd Wies­berger in the fi­nal three holes, re­sulted in a dra­matic de­noue­ment af­ter the two men fin­ished the tour­na­ment tied on 22 un­der par.

But on Bastille Day, wear­ing a spe­cially de­signed tri­colour cap, the pres­sure fi­nally caught up with the French­man.

De­spite a nerve­less round on the fi­nal day to force a play-off af­ter a nervy Wies­berger bo­geyed the 17th, when it came to the sud­den death holes it was He­bert who suc­cumbed.

With the first two play-off holes halved af­ter the pair parred then bo­geyed the 18th hole, with He­bert miss­ing a four-foot win­ning putt sec­ond time around, the French­man then three-putted the 18th at the third time of ask­ing, al­low­ing Wies­berger to take home the win­ner’s cheque of al­most £1mil­lion.

“I knew it was go­ing to be the big­gest tour­na­ment that I’ve been in a po­si­tion to win,” said the Aus­trian, “so I knew it was go­ing to be a tough grind. I strug­gled a lit­tle bit with my iron shots but I dug deep and was re­warded in the end.”

For He­bert, who has yet to win on the Euro­pean Tour, his con­so­la­tion prize is a place in next week’s Open for the first time as a pro­fes­sional. An­drew “Beef” John­ston – who also shot a stun­ning round of 62 – and Italy’s Nino Ber­ta­sio are the other two play­ers to join him at Royal Portrush cour­tesy of their performanc­es in East Loth­ian.

For Wies­berger, He­bert’s play­off putting woes spared his blushes af­ter he be­gan the day at 20 un­der, two shots ahead of Erik van Rooyen, four clear of the field and seven shots ahead of He­bert, only to al­most let the French­man steal off with his prize. When Wies­berger birdied the par-five 16th, he led at 23-un­der, only to bo­gey the par-three 17th, fol­lowed by a nervy up and down to save par on the fi­nal hole.

Wies­berger has now won six times on the Euro­pean Tour, and is back to his best af­ter re­cov­er­ing from surgery on his wrist that ended his out­side chance of mak­ing the last Ry­der Cup side.

It is also his sec­ond vic­tory in three months, hav­ing won the Made In Den­mark tour­na­ment from Bob Mac­in­tyre at the end of May.

But Wies­berger is not the only player whose for­tunes have un­der­gone a dra­matic up­turn. John­ston’s nine-un­der round of 62 came fol­low­ing a time of ex­tra­or­di­nary tur­moil for the En­glish­man, who re­cently spoke can­didly about the de­pres­sion which forced him to take a break from the game.

At the end of his round, an emo­tional John­ston strug­gled to hold back tears as his voice broke sev­eral times. “That was very spe­cial, I loved ev­ery minute of it,” he said. “I thought Fri­day was a good day, shoot­ing a low one and mak­ing the cut, but to have a Sun­day like that was spe­cial.

“Today was about en­joy­ing golf again. I put no pres­sure on my­self and even at eight or nine un­der, I was hav­ing fun. I was happy to be out there and it was a dif­fer­ent type of mind­set, no pres­sure.

“I didn’t think about my score, or what po­si­tion we were in, about Open spots,” John­son added. “I just tried to have fun out there and it was nice.”

Late tri­umph: Bernd Wies­berger won af­ter a dra­matic three-hole play-off

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