England’s Paul Casey was over the moon with his performance in the KLM Open, and he was not the only one after a unique hole-in-one prize was claimed yesterday.
Casey, whose fiance Pollyanna Woodward gave birth to a baby boy on September 1, carded a closing 66 at Kennemer Golf Club to claim his 13th European Tour title on 14 under par, one shot ahead of three-time champion Simon Dyson.
England’s Andy Sullivan was another stroke back in third but also won a trip into space worth $100,000 for a hole-in-one on the 15th, although he admitted he was not certain to become an amateur astronaut.
“I’m not sure yet,” said Sullivan, who holed out with a nine iron on the 163-yard hole on his way to a closing 67. “I’ll see what the missus says!”
Casey began the day four shots off the lead – just as he did before his last victory in the Irish Open in 2013 – but made the ideal start with four birdies in his first seven holes, and with overnight leader Romain Wattel dropping a shot on the seventh, Casey moved into a lead he was not about to relinquish.
A birdie on the 14th was followed by his only bogey of the day on the 15th and with Malton’s Dyson making a birdie on the last to complete a flawless 65, Casey’s lead was down to a single shot.
However, the former world No 3 held his nerve to close with three pars and seal an emotional victory.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said a delighted Casey afterwards.
“First tournament as a dad, first win as a dad. I’m a bit emotional to be honest.
“It was very care-free for three-and-a-half days, because if I played well or poorly I was going to go home to see my baby, and then I got to the last three holes and I thought ‘I really want this.’
“Just having my first child was a great distraction.
“I had no expectations coming into the week and I did very little pratice, even flying in Wednesday morning to spend as much time at home as possible, so I was apprehensive as to how I was going to play.
“I couldn’t have dreamed it would turn out this way. It’s not that I wasn’t trying my hardest on the course, but you just don’t know how it will turn out.
“This tournament has been going for more than 90 years and looking at the names on the trophy, you have Seve (Ballesteros), (Bernhard) Langer, Payne Stewart. It’s got some great names so to add my name to that is a great honour.”
Runner-up Dyson added: “It was a really good week.
“I got better every day and played really nicely, shot five under and felt like I left a few out there on the front nine.
“I always thought my total would be a bit short, even when Paul bogeyed the 15th. As soon as I got to 10 under my target was to get 14 under, but I am really pleased with the week.”
Sullivan needed treatment for altitude sickness in the mountains of Switzerland during last week’s European Masters, so it was no surprise that he gave out mixed messages about his hole-in-one prize.
“It was such a rollercoaster out there today and this week so to top it off by going to space is great,” said the former Walker Cup star.
“I was on the comeback after a few bad holes and the caddie pulled out a nine iron and said try to cut it in there, luckily it came off and it went in.
“I’m not sure if I’ll go, I’ll check with the missus. I’m not great with heights or flying! I might have to pluck up some serious courage, but it is a once in a lifetime experience, so I’m going to have to do it.”
Billy Horschel last night claimed the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, a double that earned him a £7m bonus.
Horschel edged out Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, who was unable to add to the Open and US PGA Championship titles he won earlier in the summer.
McIlroy went into the final round tied for the lead with American Horschel, who won the BMW Championship in Denver last week.
Things seemed to be going McIlroy’s way when he hit a wild drive on the fourth, but had a clear shot to the green and ended up holing from 18 feet for birdie. The decisive moment arrived on the treacherous par-three sixth, where Horschel hit a superb three iron into the heart of the green and then saw McIlroy, attempting to hit two clubs less, pull his tee shot into the water surrounding the green.
Horschel edged in front with a birdie on the 15th and then made what turned out to be a £7m putt on the 16th, holing from 30 feet for par after finding trouble off the tee. McIlroy birdied from half the distance to get back to seven under, but with Justin Rose dropping a shot on the 17th, the tournament went to a battle between Horschel and Jim Furyk, with the former prevailing.