Open D’Italia: Karlberg wins as Kaymer falters

Rikard Karlberg came through a playoff against Martin Kaymer in Milan

Rikard Karlberg wins Open D'Italia
Rikard Karlberg wins Open D'Italia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg beat Martin Kaymer of Germany at the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the 72nd Open D’Italia at Golf Club Milano.

Martin Kaymer had looked to be in control of the event when he went to the turn in 32 during Sunday’s final round. He moved to 21-under-par and was three clear of the pack. But the two-time Major champion stumbled on the back nine with three bogeys in five holes from the 10th.

That collapse opened the door for a number of players who were grouped together on 18-under-par, including Danny Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England. But with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes, Karlberg reached 19-under and he finished on that score with a par at the tricky home hole.

Kaymer recovered a shot on the par-5 16th and then parred the last two to match Karlberg’s score. The title would be decided over extra holes.

On returning to the 18th for the first playoff hole, Karlberg played a nervy tee shot that sprayed to the right. Fortunately for him it was stopped by the galleries and ended in a playable position. Both men made par so they returned to the 18th tee. Both found the putting surface in regulation, although Karlberg faced an easier, straighter putt. Kaymer’s birdie effort was never on line and that gave Karlberg a chance to claim his maiden Tour title. He grabbed it by rolling the putt calmly home.

Four talking points from the Open D’Italia

1 – This was a significant result for Rikard Karlberg. His first victory on the European Tour means he is now exempt on the circuit until the end of 2017. He’s also up to 47th on the Race to Dubai and has given himself a good chance of making the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Karlberg has struggled to establish himself on the circuit since his first full season in 2011. He’s been to Q-school nine times, including last year. He is now up to 133rd on the Official World Golf Ranking.

2 – Martin Kaymer was left disappointed to have not won his first tournament since the 2014 U.S. Open. He should have closed out the victory when he moved three clear after nine holes.

“We made too many mistakes on the back nine,” he said. “There were two or three tactical and clubbing mistakes. That happens sometimes but it shouldn't have happened in that situation today.”

It’s not the first time Kaymer has collapsed on a Sunday on the European Tour. Earlier this year, the German blew a large lead in Abu Dhabi to lose out to Gary Stal.

Martin Kaymer swing sequence:

3 – There was a real logjam for third place with seven players just a shot behind Kaymer and Karlberg. Matthew Fitzpatrick closed with a 65 to move into a share for third. The young Englishman is enjoying a fine close to his season following a second place in the European Masters and a third in the Czech Masters. He’s 35th on the Race to Dubai standings. In second place on that ranking is Danny Willett. He felt that he should have won in Italy. "Every day we've had a really stale spell and it's cost us a couple of shots here and there," he said.

4 – Young amateur Lorenzo Scalise put on a fine performance to end the week as leading Italian, in a tie for 11th place. The 20-year-old posted a closing round of 66 to finish on 16-under-par, just three shots behind the winning total.

72nd Open D’Italia presented by DAMIANI Golf Club Milano, Parco Reale di Monza, Italy Sep 17-20 Purse: €1,500,000, par 72

1    Rikard Karlberg (Swe)    67    67    68    67    269    €250,000 2    Martin Kaymer (Ger)    68    66    65    70    269    €166,660 T3    Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 66    65    70    69    270    €57,300 T3    Jens Fahbring (Swe)    67    64    68    71    270    €57,300 T3    Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70    68    67    65    270    €57,300 T3    Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 72    66    69    63    270    €57,300 T3    David Lipsky (USA)    67    67    68    68    270    €57,300 T3    Danny Willett (Eng)    68    67    69    66    270    €57,300 T3    Fabrizio Zanotti (Par)    66    67    68    69    270    €57,300 10    Romain Wattel (Fra)    67    66    66    72    271    €30,000

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?