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GOLF

Bjørn scores second Masters win in play-off

Denmark's Thomas Bjørn birdied the first extra play-off hole to capture his second European Masters golf title in three years in Switzerland on Sunday after coming back from two shots down in the final round.

Bjørn scores second Masters win in play-off
Thomas Bjorn. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images North America/ AFP/File

At the weather-hit mountain course at Crans-Montana, Bjorn holed a 12-foot putt to defeat Scotland's Craig Lee in mist and steady rain after both players ended regulation play tied at 20-under par.
   
It is the two-time Ryder Cup winner's 14th career victory but first in two years while Lee was looking to capture a maiden Tour title.
   
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson shot a final round 66 to finish alone in third on 19 under while Spaniard Alejandro Canizares was a further shot back in fourth.
   
"It was nice," said the relieved Dane after closing out victory on the first play-off after Lee found the bunker with his tee shot on the 18th which gave him a tough approach to the par four green.
   
"When I get into situations like today (Sunday) I really know to grind it out and I have to say I've been pretty good at closing out tournaments in my career," he said.
   
"I give everything in those situations and I just grind, and grind and grind even knowing that I don't need to play great.
   
"That's what it's about late on Sunday afternoons and I've just got that in me."
   
Victory earned Bjørrn a first prize cheque of 366,660 euros and will lift him from 66th to 45th in the world rankings.

"This year I have come up short a few times including the hurt in Munich but I came here really desperate to win this golf tournament so this one is very sweet for me given I am 42 years of age," he said.
   
"I had two bogeys in 72 holes, which is good going around here," Bjørrn said.

"I felt good and I got over the line," he said.

"It was nice to do that in a playoff.

"I've had a hard time dealing with pressure situations and there is no more pressure than that."
   
It was had on Lee who equalled the course record on Saturday with a sensational ten under par 61 that sent him into the final day with a two-shot lead.
   
Bjørrn needed just nine putts over the front nine to take the clubhouse lead but Lee hit back with three birdies down the stretch and agonisingly saw his birdie stroke for victory lip out at the final hole which sent the pair to a play-off.

"You keep thinking when is going to be the next win but then you play alongside someone like Miguel (Angel Jimenez) and he seems like he's 60-odd and away you go and that gives you more confidence," continued Bjørrn.

Jimenez finished tied for fifth with Englishman Ross Fisher five shots back.
   
The victory puts Bjørrn top of the Ryder Cup qualifying points table after two weeks of qualifying.

Despite Lee's disappointment the Scot jumped from 108th to 55th on the Race to Dubai and the assurance of retaining his Tour card for next year.
   
"This result lifts a lot of weight off my shoulders as my card is now secure for next year and it means I don't have to go chasing tournaments like heading to Perth in Australia later this year," said Lee.
   
"Now I can think about maybe getting ready to go to China for the 'Final Series' instead."

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AVALANCHE

French ski patroller dies after avalanche in Switzerland’s Valais

UPDATED: A French ski patroller has died as a result of injuries received when an avalanche struck a ski slope in the canton of Valais on Tuesday, local police have confirmed.

French ski patroller dies after avalanche in Switzerland’s Valais
Rescue workers search the avalanche site in Valais on Tuesday. Photo: Valais Police

Police said on Twitter that the 34-year-old had died overnight in the hospital in the city of Sion.

Three other people received minor injuries after the large avalanche hit the Plaine-Morte ski slope in Crans-Montana at around 2.15pm yesterday.

A huge search operation immediately got underway for possible further victims after local, unconfirmed reports suggested as many as 10 to 12 people may have been hit by the avalanche.

However, on Wednesday morning, police in Valais said they were suspending the search.

They said no further victims had been found beneath the snow and there were no further indications that more people were missing. However, search operations would continue if it became necessary.

Crans-Montana's website had on Tuesday listed the risk of an avalanche at two on a scale that runs from one (lowest risk) to five. 

The site of the avalanche in Crans Montana on Tuesday. Photo: AFP/Valais Police

The vast majority of deadly avalanches in the Alpine nation hit people skiing off-piste. 

“We don't know yet whether the avalanche detached by itself or was set off by skiers, or a rockfall,” Swiss avalanche expert Robert Bolognesi told the 20 Minutes news site.

An investigation has now been launched into the incident.

Plaine-Morte, at an altitude of about 3,000 metres, is the highest ski slope at Crans-Montana.

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