CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland — In a five-man playoff for the European Masters title on Sunday, Sebastian Soderberg sank his birdie putt on the first extra hole when Rory McIlroy and others could not.
History repeated itself for McIlroy at the Crans-sur-Sierre club in the Swiss Alps, where he lost a playoff as a 19-year-old in 2008.
"Too many mistakes," said McIlroy, who came to the Swiss Alps for his seventh event in eight weeks direct from securing the FedEx Cup last Sunday. "Playing that much, sometimes these mental errors creep in."
Soderberg seemed to waste his best chance of victory on the 17th green, three-putting from five feet to fall into a share of the lead at 14 under.
The 28-year-old Swede carded a 4-under 66 for a 266 total, alongside his playing partners McIlroy (67) and Lorenzo Gagli (67), and soon joined by Kalle Samooja (67) and third-round leader Andres Romero (70).
Playing the par-4 18th as the first extra hole, the former Coastal Carolina University student Soderberg was the only player to stay on the fairway. McIlroy pushed his tee shot left into the spectators.
Soderberg made his putt from about eight feet before McIlroy and Samooja missed from closer range.
It was a first title for Soderberg, whose winner's check almost doubled his career winnings on the European Tour. It also secured his Tour card through 2021.
"It's going to change your life going forward," said Soderberg, who acknowledged shaking with the tension when he led on the back nine of the Severiano Ballesteros course. "I was way more calm in the playoff than I was in my last few holes."
McIlroy played more than 18 holes for the second straight Sunday. One week earlier, he won the weather-affected Tour Championship after playing most of his third round on the Sunday morning.
"The sloppy finish yesterday (Saturday) probably cost me," said second-ranked McIlroy, who dropped three shots late in his third round.
Soderberg soared up the leaderboard with five straight birdies from the 10th. At the 17th, he stood over a five-footer for birdie seconds after playing partners McIlroy and Gagli sank theirs to move within one shot. Soderberg took three putts, then missed a birdie chance on the final hole.
"I thought I had it," Soderberg said, recalling his first putt for victory. "I literally couldn't hold the putter still so I was just happy I gave it a good try."
Of the five in the playoff, only McIlroy did not have a putt for victory on the 72nd hole.
After pushing his tee shot wide right into the trees, McIlroy was looking at the plaque in honour of a storied Ballesteros shot from that spot in 1993. Instead, McIlroy chipped out on the fairway, hit his approach to within two feet, and calmly made par.
It was a roller coaster final round for McIlroy who made bogey on two of the first three holes, and four through the 10th. Five shots off the lead, he reeled off five birdies in six holes from the 12th to pull within two shots of Soderberg.
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