Tyrrell Hatton prevailed in a four-hole, sudden death playoff to win the Turkish Airlines Open, his fourth career European Tour win and second Rolex Series title. Hatton’s heroics included a chip-in birdie to stay alive in the playoff – fitting since he was fifth in the field for the week in strokes gained around the green.
The playoff, which began with six players, tied the largest in European Tour history. There were two other six-man playoffs on the European Tour: at the 1990 Atlantic Open and the 2003 Dunhill Championship. Lasting four holes, it was the longest sudden death playoff on the Tour in five years and the longest in a Rolex Series event.
Hatton was remarkable from tee to green all week, ranking second in the field in strokes gained approach and strokes gained long game. His sharp iron play is no surprise: this season, Tyrrell leads the European Tour in strokes gained approach per round.
It was heartbreak for Matthias Schwab, who was eliminated with bogey on the fourth playoff hole. Schwab played 24 par-five holes for the week (including the playoff) at a combined 21 strokes under par. The bogey on the final playoff hole was the only dropped shot he had all week on a par five.
Schwab led by three strokes entering the final round. It is just the second time in twelve instances this season on the European Tour where a player led by three strokes or more entering the final round and did not win – the other was Benjamin Hebert in China in May.
American Kurt Kitayama was also among the group of six in the playoff. Kitayama was looking to become the third American player since the European Tour formed in 1972 to be credited with three wins a single season. He would have joined Mark O’Meara, who did it in 1998, and Tiger Woods, who did it eight different times.
14-time Japanese Tour winner Ai Suzuki claimed her first career LPGA Tour victory at the Toto Japan Classic. It’s been a stellar year for Ai, who has five JLPGA wins in 2019 – including just last week. Suzuki told reporters after her win that she is considering her opportunity to play on the LPGA Tour in 2020.
Jeff Maggert holed out on the third playoff hole to beat Retief Goosen at the PGA Tour Champions’ season finale, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Scott McCarron won the season-long points title for the first time, successfully finishing his climb up the ladder. His last four finishes in that race: 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and now 1st.
Jon Rahm celebrated his 25th birthday on Sunday. Rahm has averaged 11.68 world ranking points per start in his career, fourth-best of anyone since the system began in 1986. The only three players with higher per-start averages are Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Greg Norman.
The European Tour shifts more than 4,000 miles southwest – from Turkey to South Africa – next week for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Lee Westwood will look to defend his title – his three wins at the Nedbank are tied for most all-time with Ernie Els, Nick Price and David Frost.