The Punter

The Punter's De-brief: Valimaki wins in extra-time

Golfer Sami Valimaki
Sami Valimaki - the 2023 Qatar Masters winner

Steve Rawlings looks back on the Qatar Masters where Sami Valimaki completed a playoff victory over Jorge Campillo...

After two suspensions in play on a wild and windy Thursday, we were playing catch up in Doha all week long and, as highlighted in the In-Play Blog on Saturday evening, we still hadn't caught up completely by the end of day three.

The leader, Jorge Campillo, had to return to the course early on Sunday morning to play the par five 18th and Scotland's Robert MacIntyre had two holes to play.

Sami Valimaki, who was just one stroke behind Campillo and one ahead of MacIntyre, had the advantage of getting his third round finished.

MacIntyre, who was matched at a low of 2.77/4, stiffed his tee-shot on the par three 17th to draw alongside Valimaki. After Campillo had parred the 18th to remain one clear of the Scot and the Finn, however, MacIntyre made a mess of the final hole to record a bogey six.

So we began the fourth round as we'd finished up Saturday, with Camillo one ahead of Valimaki, two ahead of MacIntyre and three clear of the rest.

Campillo was trading at 3.02/1 with his one stroke lead, Valimaki was trading at 9/25.50 and Macintyre drifted out to 5/16.00.

Macintyre started the fourth round with a bogey six and he was never at the races after that. For much of the day it looked like Campillo, a pre-event 55.054/1 chance, was going to become the fourth player to win the Qatar Masters for a second time (he won the 2020 edition at Education City).

Valimaki galvinised to fight back

Valimaki, a pre-tournament 85.084/1 shot, drifted to around 9.08/1 when he bogeyed the sixth hole to trail Campillo by three. But that seemed to galvanise the Finn and he followed the drop shot with back-to-back birdies.

Campillo birdied the eighth hole to remain a couple clear and he was matched at just 1.331/3 before Valimaki made back-to-back birdies again, this time at 12 and 13 to draw alongside the Spaniard.

The event took another swing on 15 when a poor drive by Valimaki led to a bogey five. Campillo was matched at a low of 1.330/100 as he marched to the drivable par four 16th hole, having not made a bogey since the seventh hole in round two.

Campillo takes Valimaki to play-off

Consistently the easiest hole on the course, it was long odds-on that the steady Spaniard would keep his nose in front at the seventh. But an errant drive found the waste ground left of the fairway, from where he went on to record a bogey five.

Valimaki failed to get-up-down for birdie from just short of the green, so the pair went to the par three 17th tied again.

Both hit great tee-shots but Campillo left his birdie putt agonisingly short before Valimaki drained his to hit the front for the very first time but he didn't stay there for long.

Campillo found the 18th in two to make a comfortable two-putt birdie four and we were into extra-time.

The market narrowly favoured the Spaniard but after both men played fabulous third shots, having been forced to lay up after finding the rough off the tee, Camillo missed his birdie putt from around eight feet. Valimaki holed his from around half that distance.

It was impossible not to feel for Campillo who did very little wrong all day.

He'll look back and wonder how birdie putts at 14 and 17 stayed out and he'll rue not playing the 16th hole more cautiously. But he'll remember his brave second shots on 15 and 18 that on any other day may have seen him claim the title.

MacIntyre disappoints again

Starting slowly may well have helped Valimaki who played some quite stunning golf after the drop on six. But the big disappointment yesterday was the well-backed MacIntyre who's starting to look like one to be wary of in-contention.

He played superbly from off the pace on Sunday at the Scottish Open in July but he was poor in-the-mix yesterday, as he was in Kenya in March and at the Made in HimmerLand in Denmark four months ago.

The DP World Tour is taking a break this week before the Nedbank Challenge and the season finale, the DP World Tour Championship. But the PGA Tour is heading to Mexico for the World Wide Technology Championship, which I've previewed here.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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