Paul Waring claims Nordea Masters crown after play-off
Englishman edges out Thomas Aiken for first European Tour victory
Last Updated: 20/08/18 12:38am
Paul Waring beat Thomas Aiken on the first hole of a play-off at the Nordea Masters to claim his maiden European Tour title.
The 33-year-old Englishman, playing in his 200th European Tour event, calmly parred the 18th at Hills Golf Club in Gothenburg as South African Aiken found all sorts of trouble.
Aiken, 35, had taken the tournament into a play-off a few minutes earlier when he birdied the 18th for a two-under 68 to join Waring on 14-under 266 after 72 holes.
The pair started the day on 12 under - three shots clear of the remainder of the field - and maintained their grip on the top of the leaderboard throughout the final round.
Aiken twice nosed ahead early on with birdies at the first and third - either side of Waring's gain at the second - but back-to-back bogeys at the fourth and fifth handed the initiative to Waring.
The world No 330 held a two-shot advantage on two occasions courtesy of birdies at the 10th and 13th as Aiken kept in touch with a birdie at the 12th.
A bogey at the 15th reduced Waring's advantage to one but, after a superb approach shot from a bank at the 17th, he was still ahead playing the 18th, where an awkward lie in a greenside bunker meant his third shot failed to reach the green and Aiken stepped up to knock in a birdie after playing an excellent shot from the same sand-trap.
Waring remained unfazed, though, and found the fairway with his drive as they returned to the 18th, but Aiken, chasing his fourth victory, went badly right and into a pond.
After taking a drop, the South African flirted with bushes with his third shot and then chipped up short of the green, allowing Waring the comfort of three putts for the title, which also secures his card for next year.
"I'm obviously ecstatic," said Waring, whose career has been blighted by a couple of serious injuries. "I wasn't ever sure this day would come in total honesty. I've tried so hard for many years to get to this point and it's nice to finally get across the line and be holding the trophy.
"It wasn't easy. I felt really in control though. I've made a few swing changes so I was kind of allowing myself to hit some bad shots now and again, so I wasn't getting too wound up in where the ball was going.
"It feels like it's all worth it. I've had a couple of operations along the way and it's nice to have finally got to this point and I'm sure everyone back home will be absolutely thrilled for me. I've got a great team around me so this is all for them as well."
Waring and Aiken finished one shot ahead of Germany's Maximilian Kieffer who applied some late pressure by playing the back nine in just 29 blows for a five-under 65 to finish on 13 under.
Kieffer did not register a par over the final eight holes with an eagle-two at the 12th and five birdies, including a hat-trick to close his round, although bogeys at the 13th and 15th proved to be costly for him.
Australian Lucas Herbert also played the back nine in 29 as he carded a 66 to finish in fifth place on 11 under.
Herbert was two over for his round after 11 holes, but he then eagled the 12th before adding four birdies over the final six holes.
Thorbjorn Olesen sandwiched the pair in fourth place on 12 under after carding a 67, the Dane signing off with back-to-back birdies after failing to apply any early pressure on the leaders as he played the front nine in level par.
Olesen has now claimed five top-six finishes in his last nine events and has moved into the automatic positions for the European Ryder Cup team via the world points list thanks to his performance in Sweden.
Italy's Andrea Pavan and Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand shared the honours for round of the day with six-under 64s which put them in a four-way tie for sixth place on nine under.
Englishman Robert Rock (67) and Haydn Porteous of South Africa (65) also finished on nine under.
Andrew Johnston ended his round in style by chipping in from just off the green for an eagle at the 18th to close with a 66 and a share of 10th place with fellow Englishmen Matthew Southgate (67) and Lee Slattery (69) on eight under.
Marc Warren of Scotland started the day in a share of third place, three off the lead alongside Olesen, but quickly dropped out of contention with a double-bogey at the first and he eventually signed for a 73 which left him in a tie for 17th on six under.