Cologne, Germany (SportsNetwork.com) - Fabrizio Zanotti defeated world No. 2 Henrik Stenson on the fifth playoff hole on Sunday to take home the BMW International Open championship.
Zanotti, who became the first player from Paraguay to win on the European Tour, fired a final-round 65 and finished regulation play at 19-under-par 269. It was Zanotti's first career European Tour victory.
"I was patient. I tried to play shot by shot in the playoff. I'm just very happy," Zanotti said. "I knew today that if I made a good run I'd have a good chance."
The playoff, which featured Zanotti, Stenson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Gregory Havret at one point after the four finished at 19-under, was eventually whittled down to just Zanotti and Stenson at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof.
With heavy rain beginning to fall, Stenson (67) found water on his tee shot at the 17th, the fifth playoff hole, while Zanotti ended up just short of the green on the driveable par-4. Zanotti stuck his approach close and Stenson knocked his third shot into a bunker before flying his next one well by the hole. From there, the Swede conceded the hole and the title was Zanotti's.
Havret (66) was eliminated on the second playoff hole, while Cabrera-Bello (67) was later ousted on the fourth playoff hole. Both players were eliminated at the par-4 18th.
Thongchai Jaidee (65), Simon Dyson (66) and Jamie Donaldson (67) all finished tied for fifth at 18-under 270 and ended just one shot behind the playoff participants.
Pablo Larrazabal, the leader at the start of Sunday's final round, could not keep up with the low scores and shot even-par to finish tied for eighth at 17- under. Larrazabal was joined by Danny Willett (68) and Emiliano Grillo (69).
Stenson, who finished his round in regulation strong with four birdies and an eagle on the back nine, had a chance to finish the playoff on the first hole with a birdie opportunity at No. 18, but his putt just rolled past the left edge. All four made par to start the playoff.
Havret was the only player to miss the fairway on the second playoff hole, also No. 18, and it would prove costly. Zanotti, Stenson and Cabrera-Bello all made birdie on the hole, but Havret missed his par putt from the fringe and it was down to three.
Now on the short par-4 17th hole, Zanotti, Stenson and Cabrera-Bello all hit the green with their first shots, but none of them could make eagle and they had to settle for birdie.
Back at the 18th, after finding himself in the right rough, Cabrera-Bello attempted to make it to the green, but instead he found water. The Spaniard later conceded the hole, while the other two went on to make par as heavy rain began to fall.
Zanotti played strong all day. In fact, he tied for the lowest round on Sunday after seven birdies and no bogeys.
"Today was my day," Zanotti said. "I've been working a lot and trying to build my confidence to get to this moment and finally I'm here."
Havret used four birdies on the back nine, including back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15, to jump into a tie for the lead as well.
Cabrera-Bello, who held a share of the lead following both the first and second rounds, also shot up the leaderboard down the stretch. A birdie at No. 16 had Cabrera-Bello at 16-under and three shots off the lead. Then, unlike the third playoff hole, Cabrera-Bello poured in an eagle putt on No. 17 to bring him within one. He also birdied 18 to move into a four-way tie for first.
Stenson made the turn at 1-over for the day, but he made back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 and followed those up with an eagle on the par-5 13th. Stenson added birdies at 14 and 17 to move to 19-under.
Stenson left a birdie putt just on the lip of the cup on 18, which would have given him the victory in regulation.
NOTES: Zanotti earned 333,330 euros with the victory. He became the eighth first-time winner on the European Tour this year ... James Heath made a hole- in-one on the par-3 16th hole Sunday. He finished at 11-under, tied for 45th ... The European Tour next heads to Paris, France for the Alstom Open de France, where Graeme McDowell will attempt to defend his title from last year.