Howell edges Uihlein in playoff at St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Scotland – David Howell birdied the second playoff hole on Sunday to defeat Peter Uihlein and win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Howell fired a 5-under-par 67 in the final round to catch the overnight-leader Uihlein, who shot 3-under 69 at St. Andrews. The pair finished regulation at 23-under-par 265, then matched pars on the first playoff hole.
On the second playoff hole, both players found the green in two at the par-4 18th. Uihlein was away at 15 feet and the 24-year-old American left his birdie effort just short. Howell, meanwhile, was inside 10 feet, and he delivered, coaxing his birdie putt into the hole for his first victory on the European Tour since 2006.
"It's incredible, the sun is shining and the crowd have come out," Howell said. "I have never played in an Open Championship here, but to win a golf tournament as a professional at the home of golf is quite amazing and I am really thrilled."
Shane Lowry briefly held a 2-stroke lead late Sunday when he birdied the 11th, but the Irishman closed with two bogeys and five pars for a 68. He finished in a tie for third with Tom Lewis (64) at 22-under 266.
Tommy Fleetwood (67) placed solo fifth at 21-under, one stroke ahead of Garth Mulroy (68).
Former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel (67) tied for seventh with Martin Kaymer (71), Ricardo Gonzalez (70), Thomas Levet (69) and Chris Wood (65) at 19-under 269.
By the time Uihlein teed off on Sunday, his 2-shot overnight lead had evaporated, thanks to a blistering start by Levet, who birdied his first five holes.
Levet would eventually fall off the pace, as he played his final seven holes at 4-over-par, but the leaderboard remained crowded at the top.
Uihlein 3-putted for bogey at the first, then parred three straight before slowly working his way back with birdies at Nos. 5, 6 and 9.
Howell, playing a group ahead of Uihlein, held the lead at the turn with five birdies over that span, but Lowry quickly overtook him at 23-under when he eagled the 10th and birded the 11th.
But Lowry bogeyed the 13th and 15th, and as Howell bogeyed the 12th, Uihlein followed with him with a birdie at the same hole to jump in front by a stroke.
Howell made that shot up with a birdie at the 15th and both players parred out to finish knotted a 23-under.
"I was really nervous all week and strangely less nervous today, I can't explain that at all," said Howell, now a five-time European Tour winner. "I stayed calm and smooth under pressure and that was really pleasing."
NOTES: Howell's previous European Tour wins came at the 2006 BMW Championship, the 2006 HSBC Champions Tournament, the 2005 BMW International Open and the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic ... Uihlein was bidding to become the first American to win this tournament. He earned his maiden European Tour victory at the Madeira Islands Open in May ... Kaymer won this event in 2010 ... Branden Grace, the 2012 champion, tied for 59th at 8-under 280 ... Ernie Els was tied for second place after three rounds, but he shot 73 on Sunday and tied for 17th at minus-17.