England's Dan Brown completed a stunning wire-to-wire success at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clincs to claim his maiden professional win, on the same day Alexa Pano celebrated her 19th birthday with a maiden victory on the LPGA Tour.
This week’s event was tri-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour, with men’s and women’s tournaments played on the same courses at the same time for two equal prize funds of $1.5m.
Brown saw his six-shot overnight advantage shaved only slightly as he posted a 1-under 69 at Galgorm Castle to reach 15-under par and secure a five-stroke victory over countryman Alex Fitzpatrick, who finished second on 10-under par.
The 28-year-old, who earned his playing privileges via the DP World Tour Qualifying School in 2022, started with a bogey for the second day in succession before another dropped shot arrived at the third.
He returned to level terms with back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth, before entering red numbers for the first time at the par five tenth. Then came a real test of his mettle as he dropped a shot at each of the next three holes with Fitzpatrick ready to pounce.
However, the former EuroPro Tour and Challenge Tour player showed the prowess which had seen him post rounds of 64-66-67 over the first three days, as he birdied the next two holes and the par four 17th to ensure he could paint the perfect picture and enjoy the walk up 18 with a five-stroke advantage.
Fitzpatrick recorded his career-best finish to date with a two-under par 68 to finish solo second, while Eddie Pepperell secured his highest finish on the 2023 Race to Dubai as he continued the English dominance in third place on 7-under par.
“Alex was playing really well. Probably played considerably better than I did. I just managed to hit some good shots after the blip on 11, 12, 13. Then I holed a couple of really nice putts and then I suppose once I hit that iron shot into 17, that was kind of fun. I thought this should be it if I don't do anything stupid, this should be over here.
“I had his card. I was marking his card, so I knew exactly what he was doing. The leaderboard, every time I looked over my shoulder, the leaderboard was right next to me. So you can't get away from it. As much as people say that they don't watch leaderboards, they definitely do. It was just a matter of just trying to compose myself again after 11, 12 and 13. I enjoyed the walk down 18 as well, which is nice because it's probably quite rare to enjoy that much of a lead walking down the last.”
Alexa Pano wins ISPS Handa World Invitational on Ladies European Tour
It was a birthday to remember for Alexa Pano as she won the ISPS HANDA World Invitational Presented by AVIV Clinics in a dramatic playoff.
After rounds of 76-70-69-66, Pano ended the tournament with a total of 8-under-par and found herself in a playoff alongside Germany’s Esther Henseleit and England’s Gabriella Cowley.
The American, who turns 19 today, headed back down 18 and made a birdie on the first playoff hole, as did Cowley to send them back to the tee.
“I’ve been saying I really want to win this event because it was on my birthday!” @alexapanogolf becomes the youngest LET and LPGA winner of the season at 19 years and 0 days old #RaiseOurGame | #WorldInvitational pic.twitter.com/evLzyCcSoP— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) August 20, 2023
Despite her tee shot ending up in the trees, Pano made a par on the second playoff hole while Cowley missed her birdie putt as they both headed back to the 18th tee again.
On the third playoff hole, Pano made the green in two and was able to two-putt for a birdie to win her maiden title on the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET).
“I’ve kind of been saying that I really wanted to win this event because it’s on my birthday,” said the LPGA Tour rookie.
“My best friend can contest it’s been for like two months. It feels so surreal that it’s happened. It’s been a little bit crazy because I didn’t have my clothes and clubs earlier in the week, but it’s all worth it.
“It just feels so surreal right now to have my dad on the bag as well. I can’t actually process that that just happened.”