Chris Wood holds nerve down the last to clinch BMW PGA title at Wentworth
By Keith Jackson at Wentworth
Last Updated: 30/05/16 7:23am
Chris Wood survived a nervy closing stretch to pick up the biggest victory of his career as he clinched the BMW PGA Championship title by one shot at Wentworth.
Wood roared into the lead when he matched Danny Willett's tournament-record 29 on the front nine, but he dropped three shots in four holes from the 14th to see his lead reduced from four shots to just one.
But the Bristolian held his nerve down the last and made a cast-iron par to complete a three-under 69 which gave him a winning score of nine under par, one ahead of Rikard Karlberg and two clear of Willett.
Overnight leader Scott Hend and English pair Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton all had days to forget, while Willett was left to rue an early double-bogey and two dropped shots over the last four holes as he came up two short.
But the star of the day was undoubtedly Wood, who raced out of the blocks with a rare birdie at the first - only the fifth of the round at the opening hole - and he vaulted to nine under with an eagle at the fourth.
Wood kept his momentum flowing with a sparkling run of three birdies over the next five holes as he broke 30 for the front nine, but his problems started when he missed the green with his tee-shot to the short 10th and could not get up and down for par.
He got the shot back at the next, but nerves were clearly evident as another poor tee shot to the 14th - where he won a £100,000 BMW i8 for a hole in one last year - cost him another stroke, and a poor approach and tentative chip led to another bogey at 16.
Wood then made a mess of the long 17th and took four shots just to get his ball on the putting surface as he walked off with a six, but he regained his composure in time to hit a perfect drive up the last followed by a solid lay-up.
The 28-year-old flicked a wedge safely over the hazard to 20 feet and calmly two-putted for the par which secured his third European Tour title, and his first since the Lyoness Open in June last year.
Karlberg emerged as the biggest threat to Wood as he surged through the field, buoyed by a magical shot at the second when his nine-iron to the 154-yard par-three found the hole.
The Swede birdied the next two and continued his charge with four birdies in six holes around the turn, and he answered a bogey at 16 with another gain at 17 before a par capped a sizzling, best-of-the-day 65 which lifted him 26 places up the leaderboard.
Willett was alone in third after putting together another mixed-bag of a round, following a double-bogey at the third with a chip-in for eagle at the next, but he could only par the next seven holes.
A birdie at 11 kept him in the hunt, but he again faltered down the stretch as birdies at 16 and 18 were offset by bogeys at the 15th and 17th - his third six of the week at the penultimate hole.
Romain Wattel, Thomas Aiken and Julien Quesne shared fourth on six under, while Andrew "Beef" Johnston entertained his legion of fans as he eagled the last to complete a superb 67 which elevated him to five under.
Johnston shared seventh with Martin Kaymer, who looked well poised to challenge for the title when he eagled the fourth only to give both shots back with a double-bogey at the ninth as the German faded to a 73.
Hatton started the day one off the lead on eight under and opened with six pars before embarking on a rollercoaster run around the turn, mixing two birdies with five bogeys in an error-strewn seven-hole stretch which took him out of the running.
YE Yang also wasted a bright start as he eagled the fourth, but that was his only highlight of the day as he came home in 42 to finish on four under, while Westwood (76) and Hend (78) will look forward to better days on the course.
James Morrison was even further down the leaderboard on three over, but the Englishman emulated Wood's hole in one at the 14th and also picked up a BMW i8.