Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren took a step closer to appearing in the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship after sealing his first European Tour title with a play-off victory over Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open, Italy.
The 26 year old, who became the second Swede to win in three weeks after Alexander Bjork’s win in China, started the final round two shots off the lead but got off to a flying start with four birdies in his opening nine holes to overtake Lorenzo-Vera at the top of the leaderboard. Both players made bogey at the 14th before Lorenzo-Vera took a share of the lead with a birdie on the 17th, meaning a play-off was needed to decide the victor. Lagergren held his nerve to birdie the first play-off hole whilst his rival could only make par. The win sees Lagergren pick up 195,830 Race to Dubai points which takes his total for the season to 395,842 and moves him from 58th to 28th in the Race to Dubai Rankings and in with a great chance of making the field for the European Tour’s end of season showcase, taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai from November 15-18, for the second time having made his DP World Tour Championship debut in 2016.
“Many congratulations to Joakim on his debut European Tour win at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai Office. “After Alexander’s win in China I’m sure Joakim is delighted to add his name to a long list of European Tour winners from Sweden. If he keeps up his fine form he has an excellent chance of joining us again at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November, where of course, fellow countryman Henrik Stenson has enjoyed great success having won the title in 2013 and 2014.”
Lagergren, whose victory saw him move from 245th to 133rd in the Official World Golf Ranking, looked to have missed out on a first win after Lorenzo-Vera had the chance to claim the title on the 18th but the Frenchman’s birdie putt narrowly missed to take the tournament to a play-off. Lagergren found another gear on the first play-off hole with his approach landing within eight feet of the pin which was stroked in for birdie and a long awaited first victory after 131 attempts.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole career,” said the former Challenge Tour graduate. “I’m so relieved and I’m so happy at the moment, words can’t describe it. I’ve been fighting so hard to get to here, it’s just awesome.
“When you’re just missing out a few times you really want to get that first win and it feels like you really need to get over that first step to then really continue and get more and more. This is a big step for me.”
Lorenzo Vera’s second place finish gained him 130,550 Race to Dubai points which moves him from 99th into 47th in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a total of 237,705 points.
Englishman Andy Sullivan joined Australian Lucas Herbert one shot adrift of the lead in a tie for third. Both men pick up 66,152 Race to Dubai points with Sullivan moving up three places from 44th to 41st on 314,973 whilst Herbert moves closer to the Race to Dubai top 60 after climbing to 79th from 188th on 154,680 points.
The top three in the Race to Dubai Rankings remain the same. American Patrick Reed leads the way with 2,216,000 points whilst Shubhankar Sharma of India stays in second place after a tied for 14th finish left him on 1,079,898 points. Defending Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood completes the top three on 1,023,670 points
The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 15-18.