Scotsman Robert MacIntyre defeated US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off to claim his second DP World Tour title at the Italian Open.
MacIntyre birdied the first extra hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup, after he and Fitzpatrick finished tied at 14 under par, one stroke ahead of the Frenchman Victor Perez.
Pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy, who was one stroke off the lead until he hit his tee shot on 16 in the water, finished fourth with 12 under.
“It means everything,” MacIntyre told Sky Sports. “I was down two or three months ago.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know where to go, but we talked to the right people, started working with (coach) Simon Shanks and I hit two of the perfect golf shots in the last There’s so much hard work in there.
“I hit a terrible shot on 15, which I thought was with my back against the wall, but we dug in. I have a stubborn attitude, I never give up. I get a punch but I fight back. The birdies that were huge and luckily I got one in the play-off.”
Speaking about next year’s Ryder Cup after winning the second qualifier, the southpaw added: “That’s my main goal, that’s my only goal for next year. I did it on the golf course.
“At the start of the week I didn’t think this week was going to be the one with the style of the golf course, the way he was playing, but we worked on a few things on Tuesday and Wednesday and I felt so in control of my golf ball this week.”
MacIntyre started the final round three strokes clear of Fitzpatrick but stormed to the top of the standings with six birdies in a first nine of 29.
A bogey on the 10th briefly stopped MacIntyre’s charge, but he birdied on the 12th and 13th and by then he had three leads over Fitzpatrick, who had called 10 straight pars with a birdie on the 11th.
However, Fitzpatrick then hovered agonizingly close to an albatross at par five 12 as his 212-yard approach hit the center of the pin and left him just three feet for the eagle, while MacIntyre left dropping a shot on the 14th.
MacIntyre also bugged on the 15th but birdied on the 16th and 18th to secure the clubhouse goal, with Fitzpatrick also birdie on the last hole to force the play-off after dropping a shot on the 17th.