BALLYMENA, Northern Ireland — American golfer Alexa Pano celebrated her 19th birthday by beating Gabriella Cowley of England on the third hole of a playoff to win the ISPS Handa World Invitational on Sunday, while Daniel Brown wrapped up a five-shot victory in the men’s event.
Pano shot a 6-under 66 in the final round on the Galgorm course for a three-way tie with Cowley (70) and Germany’s Esther Henseleit (69) on 8-under totals of 281 in the tournament that is co-sanctioned by the European men’s tour and the LPGA Tour.
Cowley led after the third round but needed an eagle on the 18th to make the playoff, where Henseleit was eliminated on the first extra hole.
Cowley then missed a three-foot birdie putt for the win on the second playoff hole, and Pano took full advantage by making a birdie when the players returned to the par-five 18th for a third time.
“I’ve kind of been saying that I really wanted to win this event because it’s on my birthday,” Pano said. “It feels so surreal that it’s happened.”
Brown’s victory in the men’s event was a lot more straightforward as the Englishman led from day one and closed with a 69 for a 15-under total of 266, five shots clear of compatriot Alex Fitzpatrick.
The 28-year-old started the day with a six-shot lead which was briefly cut to just two strokes before three birdies in the four holes made sure of his first career victory.
“It’s amazing,” Brown said. “I could never have dreamed this up over the past however many years. I don’t think it’s sunk in.”
The tournament was staged at the parkland Galgorm Castle Golf Club and the links at Castlerock Golf Club. Every men’s and women’s player played one round at each venue over the first two days, before all the action took place at Galgorm for the final two rounds.