Storm beats McIlroy in thrilling play-off to triumph in South Africa

Graeme Storm defeated Rory McIlroy in a thrilling play-off to clinch the South Africa Open title on Sunday.

World number two McIlroy, playing his first tournament of 2017, trailed overnight leader Storm by three shots ahead of round four but moved in front by the 14th hole in a dramatic three-way battle that also involved Jordan Smith.

However, trouble at 17 for the Northern Irishman saw Storm draw level once again at 18 under and, with Smith failing to gain the birdie he needed at the last, the two men needed extra holes to decide the victor.

There was nothing to split the pair after two attempts at the 18th, a hole that saw just two birdies on round four, but McIlroy missed an eight-footer for par on the third attempt to leave Storm celebrating a first European Tour win since 2007.

McIlroy made his charge with three birdies on the front nine, while Storm made a solitary gain at the third on his way out at the Glendower Golf Club in Ekurhuleni.

The pace picked up from the 13th as a McIlroy birdie coupled with a Storm bogey at 14 – his first in 54 holes – saw the Northern Irishman take the outright lead.

Both men went under par at the 15th, and Smith moved within one after a fortuitous bounce on his approach shot left a five-foot putt for eagle that he duly sank.

The momentum shifted again at 17 as McIlroy was left plugged in a bunker and, having seen his first attempt trickle back into the sand, he left his second in range for a scrambled bogey, as Smith also dropped a shot.

Each of the trio parred the last leaving McIlroy and Storm to battle it out with both players matching each other on the first attempt down the 18th.

McIlroy made a superb save out of the trees having gone way right off the tee to again equal Storm’s four on the second play-off hole.

But at the third time of asking Storm, who saw a lengthy birdie putt just miss on the right, was triumphant when McIlroy could only bogey.

Further down the leaderboard, Jeff Winther became the first player in two years to make three eagles in a single round during his four-under-par 68.

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