Graeme Storm today defeated Rory McIlroy on the third play-off hole, to win the 2017 South African Open. When the two went to a play-off, many would have thought the World No.2, McIlroy would take the title. This was McIlroy’s first appearance at the South African Open, and also his first event of 2017.
The pair were -18 thru 72 holes, one shot clear of 2017 Tour rookie, Jordan Smith. McIlroy was -4 on the day, whilst Storm shot -1 in the final round.
Storm led after the second and third round, so he was coming into the final round under immense pressure. Lots of players like to front-run, however when you’ve got a player of McIlroy’s calibre breathing down your neck, it’s no easy task. He was three clear heading into the final day, however that sort of lead can be diminished in one hole.
The 38-year old Englishman can be mighty proud of his efforts today, as just a few months ago he was unsure of his Tour status. Storm finished 112th in the Race to Dubai and €100 short of keeping his Tour card. Thanks to Patrick Reed losing his Tour privileges, Storm regained his.
This was Storm’s first win in ten years, and just his second overall on the European Tour. Storm won the Open de France back in 2007, beating Soren Hansen by one shot. He may not have many wins to his name, but he has beaten two top-class, prominent members of the European Tour when he has.
The South Africa Open is generally a low-scoring affair and this week followed suit. The leading South African was Dean Burmenster who finished in 4th place at -15 which was one shot better than fellow countrymen, Trevor Fisher Jr and Thomas Aiken who shared 5th place.
Beyond that, six players shared 7th place on -13, including Peter Uihlein and Eduardo Molinari.