VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Journeyman Simon Khan scored a shock victory at the PGA Championship on Sunday, becoming the first invited player to win the European Tour’s flagship event.
The 37-year-old Briton, competing on a sponsor’s invite after being forced to go to Qualifying School last year, took the first prize of 750,000 euros ($937,800) after a closing five-under-par 66 earned him a six-under tally of 278.
Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed (67) was joint second on 279 with Briton Luke Donald (71), who saw his victory hopes go up in smoke with a double-bogey seven at the long 17th.
Stephen Gallacher of Britain carded a 70 to finish fourth on 280.
”When I birdied 10 I just reminded myself: ‘This is what you always dreamed of’,“ Englishman Khan told reporters. ”This place inspires me.
“I’ve been coming here since 1984, a long time ago. It’s fantastic to do it here. I enjoyed it -- the weather, the crowds, it really got me going.”
It was another scorching, hot day at Wentworth but the fiendishly difficult, revamped West Course did its bit to cool the putters of the players at the top of the leaderboard.
Overnight pacesetter Chris Wood of Briton made a series of errors as he slumped to a 77 for 282 and for a long while it seemed no one was ready to make a forward move.
Up stepped Khan, though, with a joint-best-of-the-day 66 helping him to break the tournament record for the biggest final-round winning comeback after he started the day seven adrift of Wood.
The victory also secured a five-year tour exemption and a three-year British Open exemption for last year’s Qualifying School winner.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in contention, let alone at a tournament like this,” said Khan after claiming his second tour victory, almost six years after his first at the 2004 Wales Open.
“This event seems to bring the best out of me and I drew on some good experiences from the past,” he added referring to his second-place finish in 2006. “I’ve been struggling with my putting all week but I managed to hole a few today.”
Donald was undone by a wretched 17th. He drove way right into the trees, could only chip his ball out a few yards and eventually took five to reach the green.
The former Ryder Cup player needed a rare eagle at the par-five last to force a playoff and came close when his pinpoint approach landed six inches short before spinning back six feet from the cup.
”That was very costly,“ said the Englishman, who was bidding for his first win since 2006. ”I was trying to hit a little baby draw there and just blocked it unfortunately.
“My mind is on 17 a little bit at the moment and I‘m disappointed with my tee shot there -- it was poor and I got what I deserved. I gave it my best with my wedge at the last but it wasn’t to be.”
Editing by Clare Fallon