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Missed five-foot birdie putt costs Peter Whiteford maiden Tour victory

Another weekend on the European Tour, another near miss for a Scot.

Peter Whiteford hits his  tee shot on the seventh hole during the final round.
Peter Whiteford hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during the final round.

Seven days after Marc Warren grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory in the Spanish Open, Peter Whiteford was left to reflect on what might have been in the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea.

The 32-year-old was within five feet of claiming his maiden title on the main circuit but his effort for a birdie four on the 72nd hole drifted by the cup and the Fifer eventually lost in a three-man play-off.

Brett Rumford was his beneficiary and the Australian, who suffered a late wobble on the run-in, took advantage of the reprieve with a superb eagle on the first extra hole to edge out his countryman Marcus Fraser, and Whiteford.

Rumford had raced to the turn of the final round in just 30 strokes and still led by two shots with two holes to play, only to run up a double-bogey six on the 17th after a wild drive led to a penalty drop from a bush.

Another errant tee shot on the 18th meant Rumford eventually had to hole from eight feet to save his par in a four-under 68 and, when Fraser was also unable to birdie the 543-yard par five, that left Whiteford knowing he needed a four to win.

"When the dust settles, I'll think 'it's been a great week'," said Whiteford, who picked up a cheque for €191,516 and moved to 37th in the Race to Dubai rankings. The former Challenge Tour champion, who was runner-up in the 2010 Andalucian Open, chipped to five feet after missing the green with his final approach, but missed the birdie putt in a 69 to finish alongside Rumford and Fraser on the 11-under mark.

"I've probably done enough now to keep my card but I know I shouldn't be thinking of that. Guys like me don't get many chances to win tournaments. I had a great chance and I threw it away. I only had a five-iron into the par-five and bailed out a bit safe trying to make four. I hit an average chip and then hit what I thought was a decent putt but obviously misread it. I'll take the positives and press on.

"The way the season has gone so far is tremendous."

Rumford recovered his composure in the play-off and smacked his approach to within four feet to set up the title-winning birdie.

"It was an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions," he said after landing his fourth European Tour crown.

France's Romain Wattel finished fourth on nine-under par, with former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen a shot further back. Overnight leader Alex Noren suffered a penalty shot at the second when his ball moved a fraction as he addressed his par putt, eventually carding a 74 to finish in a tie for sixth.

Stephen Gallacher, the Dubai Desert Classic winner, signed off with a 68 to join Noren in a share of sixth spot on 281, while Richie Ramsay, runner-up in South Korea last season, had to settle for a tie for 49th on 288 with his fellow Aberdonian Paul Lawrie.

James Byrne's hopes of a second victory of the season on the Asian Development Tour crumbled during the closing round of the PGM LADA Langkawi Masters in Malaysia.

The reigning Northern Open champion from Banchory had been holding a four-shot lead heading into the final day but slithered off the top with a damaging five-over 77.

Byrne, the former Walker Cup player, had to settle for a share of sixth on a 13-under 275, three strokes behind Japan's Mitsuhiko Hashizume, who beat Canada's Lindsay Renolds at the first play-off hole after both players had tied on 16-under 272s.

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