From birdies to bombs, this epic 4-hole playoff had it all
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When it’s your day, it’s your day — just ask Victor Perez.
The 29-year-old earned his second career European Tour (now the DP World Tour) victory on Sunday at the Dutch Open. But it wasn’t that Perez won that was remarkable. It was how he won that’s the stuff of legends.
For much of the final round, it looked as though New Zealander Ryan Fox would claim his second victory of the season. His back nine included an eagle at the 12th, sandwiched by birdies at 11 and 14. When he reached the 18th hole, he was six under for the day and held a three-shot lead, looking to be in prime position to post a clubhouse lead that would be impossible to match.
However, the 72nd hole proved to be his undoing.
Fox mad a critical error off the tee at the par 5, pushing his drive into the hazard and carding a disastrous double-bogey 7. The calamity dropped the 35-year-old to 13 under for the championship, and left a sliver of opportunity for those in chase.
Perez took full advantage of the mistakes being made up ahead.
With a one-shot deficit on the leaderboard, Perez hit his approach on the par-3 17th 35 feet from the cup. That’s when the first “it’s-just-his-day” moment occurred. His putt rolled perfectly across the green and into the hole, pulling the Frenchman even with Fox with a hole to play.
Perez couldn’t birdie the par-5 finisher to earn his victory in regulation, and so the two men headed to extra holes to decide the winner. That’s when the craziness went to another level.
Playoff hole 1 — No. 18
On the first extra hole, the two men each accomplished what they could not in regulation — birdieing the par-5 18th. But it didn’t come without drama. Fox carded birdie first, but Perez responded in turn, holing a 20-footer to force a second playoff hole.
Playoff hole 2 — No. 18
Compared to the rest of the playoff, this hole was relatively tame. Perez made par first and Fox had a look for birdie to win the tournament. He missed, and the two headed back to the 18th tee.
Playoff hole 3 — No. 18
Fox yet again appeared to have the upper hand on the third playoff hole. He striped a drive down the center of the fairway, hit his approach to the center of the green and two-putter for birdie. Perez faced a long birdie putt to keep his hopes alive, and he found the bottom of the cup.
Playoff hole 4 — No. 17
The fourth playoff hole took the players back to the par-3 17th. Fox’s approach was the closer of the two, but he found himself on the wrong tier of the green. Perez, with another look from 30+ feet, stepped up and — like he’d done many time over the past hour — rolled his putt into the bottom of the cup.
Fox couldn’t muster the same magic as Perez, and after an epic four-hole playoff, the Frenchman (finally) earned the improbable victory.