DP World Tour’s Italian Open sees ‘Comeback King’ Marcel Siem triumph in playoff

The DP World Tour has officially awarded Marcel Siem as the ‘Comeback King,’ and rightfully so. The 43-year-old Siem underwent hip surgery in February, roughly one year after winning the Hero Indian Open, which marked his first title since 2014.

He subsequently missed three months, returning to the Soudal Open in late May, where he missed the cut. Siem said he felt old that week because of his hip, a far cry from the emotions he felt on the 18th green on Sunday. The German defeated Tom McKibbin of Northern Ireland in a sudden-death playoff, making an 8-footer for birdie on 18 to clinch his sixth career victory on the DP World Tour.

“Holing that putt on 18 was one the coolest moments in golf for me, and doing it again in a playoff was fantastic,” Siem said.

“I love this sport, and these moments, I work really hard for them. When you get rewarded like this, it’s a very special moment. I think it’s the second-oldest trophy in mainland Europe. So I’ve got the French Open and this one now. I’m so proud of that. My journey is just beginning, it feels like.”

Siem looked in control of the tournament after birdieing the par-3 8th, as he went on to card a 3-under 32 on the front to make the turn at 13-under overall.

But the train veered off the tracks for Siem on his second nine. He bogeyed the par-4 11th, thanks to a terrible lie he faced to the right of the green. He then went on to bogey the 14th, 16th, and 17th holes, dropping him to 9-under-par for the championship and in a dire situation.

While Siem faltered down the stretch, McKibbin, who carded a 6-under 65 earlier in the day, waited in the clubhouse at 10-under-par. The 21-year-old from Belfast looked unflappable on Sunday, making six birdies to zero bogies. He posted the lowest round of the day at the Adriatic Golf Club Cervia—located on the Italian coast about 100 miles south of Venice. He waited three hours to see if he would make a playoff, but it was almost good enough for the victory.

Marcel Siem, DP World Tour, Italian Open

Marcel Siem celebrates his Italian Open victory.
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Siem, who has a penchant for bouncing back, did just that on the 72nd hole. He holed a 22-footer for birdie to match McKibbin and force a playoff, which he wound up winning.

Now, the German has two goals in his career: to play in the Ryder Cup and make it to the Masters. He has never played at Augusta National before. But if he can secure another victory this year on the DP World Tour and shoot up the season-long rankings, perhaps he will earn his PGA Tour card in December through the top 10 eligibility rankings.

Beginning last year, the top 10 players—not otherwise exempt—in the final DP World Tour standings received invitations to join the PGA Tour. Matthieu Pavon took full advantage of this opportunity—the Frenchman earned his PGA Tour card in December and then won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January, which booked his ticket to Augusta.

Maybe Siem can follow a similar blueprint, but he still has some work to do. His win propelled him 95 places in the Race to Dubai standings, yet he sits in 31st.

Nevertheless, he had already qualified for the Open Championship at Royal Troon, so perhaps the ‘Comeback King’ can make some noise there.

The same mantra applies to McKibbin, who, as a consolation prize, earned a trip to Royal Troon via the Open Qualifying Series. The R&A invited the top two finishers from the Italian Open—not otherwise exempt—to join the field of 156 in Scotland in three weeks. Sean Cocker of the United States received the other invite.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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