Karlberg gets better of Kaymer in Italian Open play-off

Sweden's Rikard Karlberg poses with the trophy after winning the Italian Open in Monza (Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images).
Sweden's Rikard Karlberg poses with the trophy after winning the Italian Open in Monza (Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images).
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Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg defeated Martin Kaymer in a play-off to win his first European Tour title after the two-time major winner squandered a three-shot lead in the Italian Open.

Sheffielders Matthew Fitzpatrick (70 68 67 65) and Danny Willett (68 67 69 66) finished a shot back in a share of third place.

Kaymer looked to be in command when he cruised to the turn in 32 at Parco Reale di Monza, but dropped shots at the 10th, 13th and 14th to fall back into a nine-way tie for the lead.

Karlberg birdied three of his last five holes to set the clubhouse target after a closing 67 and saw former world No 1 Kaymer and Sweden’s Jen Fahrbring join him on 19 under with birdies on the 16th and 17th respectively.

Fahrbring bogeyed the 18th to drop into a seven-way tie for third before Kaymer left his birdie putt on the last inches short to ensure more than 72 holes were needed to decide the 72nd Italian Open. Both players made par on the first extra hole before 28-year-old Karlberg holed from 20 feet for a winning birdie when they returned to the 18th. “I didn’t want to win on his mistake, I wanted to make a birdie,” said Karlberg, whose previous best finish this season was ninth in the European Masters.

“To do it against Kaymer is incredible.

“On the second extra hole I had a perfect yardage and a perfect lie (in the rough) so it was quite lucky, but I hit it great and that felt nice.

“It’s fantastic. Me and my wife are moving from Abu Dhabi back to Sweden, with twins on the way. A lot of things are happening this year and this is just a part of it, but it means a lot.”

Mention of Abu Dhabi will bring back bad memories for Kaymer, who blew a 10-shot lead in the final round there in January at the start of a season in which he failed to qualify for the lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs.

“It was a disappointing finish to be honest,” Kaymer said after a closing 70.

“We made too many mistakes on the back nine. There were two or three tactical and clubbing mistakes.

“That happens sometimes but it shouldn’t have happened in that situation because you need all the help you can get.

“We should have been more focused.

“I played well all week, but not on the back nine and that has cost me the tournament.”

Kaymer added: “But I don’t want to take anything away from his win.

“He played a great final round then made a birdie to win the play-off so he deserved it.”

Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren carded a flawless 63 to jump 26 places up the leaderboard into the seven-way tie for third.

Harrogate’s John Parry shared 56th place after rounds of 71 69 70 70.

Willett remains in second place on the Race to Dubai behind Rory McIlroy.