Big finish hands Zanotti victory in Malaysia

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fabrizio Zanotti made an eagle on the final hole to win his second European Tour title at the Maybank Championship.

The Paraguayan began the day six shots off the lead at Saujana Golf and Country Club but a birdie on the 71st hole saw him hit the top of the leaderboard for the first time all week.

Even better was to follow on the par five 18th as he got on the green in two and rolled in a 15 foot putt to sign for a 63 and a 19 under par total.

American David Lipsky had been the leader over much of the back nine and he too birdied the 17th but could not repeat the trick on the last to set up a play-off.

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A par saw Lipsky finish at 18 under, a shot ahead of Austria's Bernd Wiesberger and two clear of France's Alexander Levy.

Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett entered the final day with a three-shot lead but a closing 73 saw him slip to 15 under alongside China's Li Haotong.

Zanotti arrived in Malaysia off the back of three missed cuts on the Desert Swing but made a stunning return to form to claim his first win since he triumphed in a play-off at the 2014 BMW International Open.

"I think it was probably the best round of my career, so I’m very happy," he said. "It was a really good day, a really good week and I’m really happy.

"I think it was at the 15th where I thought I might be able to win, when I made birdie there. I thought, maybe I’ll have a chance if I make two more birdies, but I made a birdie and an eagle so it was great.

"It feels really good to be a winner again. I’ve been working a lot and I was not in my best run of form, missing three cuts in a row, but that’s in the past and today I’m a winner again and it feels great."

I think it was probably the best round of my career, so I’m very happy - Fabrizio Zanotti

Levy, Lipsky and Willett were in the final group and they battled it out for supremacy on the front nine with Levy catching Willett at the turn, but behind them Zanotti was making his move.

The 33 year old birdied from six feet on the third and then put his tee-shot on the fifth to ten feet and holed a tricky right-to-lefter.

A tap-in on the sixth and a smart up-and-down from a bunker on the eighth saw him turn in 32 but with Lipsky rattling off four birdies in a row from the tenth, victory still looked a long shot.

Zanotti continued his dominance of the par fives as he got on the 13th in two and a 15-foot left-to-righter on the 15th had him just one shot off the lead.

An approach to 12 feet on the 17th then saw him hit the summit before his big finish.

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Lipsky turned in 35 before going on his brilliant birdie run but a bogey on the 14th stalled his momentum before a stunning approach to the 17th gave him a chance up the last.

Wiesberger got off to a flying start with three birdies in four holes but back-to-back bogeys followed before he eagled the eighth and made three more gains on the back nine.

Levy turned in 32 but three bogeys on the back nine halted his challenge, making birdies on the 16th and 18th little more than consolation.

Li was bogey-free in a closing 65 while Willett - the only player in the top 28 to record an over par round - signed for four birdies and five bogeys.

India's Anirban Lahiri and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera finished at 14 under, two shots ahead of Panuphol Pittayarat and Shubhankar Sharma.

Nino Bertasio made his first competitive hole-in-one and the sixth of the season when he aced the par three fifth hole with a six iron.

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