Sunday, 29 April 2018
  (European Tour)
(European Tour)

Joachim B Hansen claimed his first European Challenge Tour title with a cool performance in the Antalya heat at the Turkish Airlines Challenge.

After a third round of 69 set him on the road to glory with the overnight lead going into the final 18 holes, Hansen carefully navigated the New Course at Gloria Golf Club to secure his maiden victory on Europe’s top developmental tour.

With seven players just one shot back on 11 under par going into the final round, Hansen said that ‘anyone could win it’ but in reality, the Dane never gave anyone else a chance.

He started with a flurry of three birdies in the first five holes as he moved to 15 under par, while playing partner Simon Forsström bogeyed three of the opening five.

German Max Schmitt began the day three shots back but a blemish-free front nine gave him a share of the lead after registering a birdie on the ninth hole.

Hansen carded a fourth birdie of the round on the par four eighth to make the turn in 33 and re-take the outright lead, with Schmitt, among others, just beginning to apply the pressure on the 27 year old.

However, another birdie for Hansen on the par four 11th extended his lead to three and he was looking like he may run away with it.

Road to Ras Al Khaimah Number One Lorenzo Gagli posted three birdies in his final nine holes to sign for a closing 67 and set the clubhouse lead at 15 under par, while Challenge Tour debutant Jack Singh Brar later finished with three birdies in his final four holes to sit alongside Gagli.

With the Italian and the young Englishman applying the pressure on Hansen, he followed three consecutive pars with a bogey at the 14th as he slipped back to 16 under par with his lead shrinking to one.  

The chasing pack did their best to drag Hansen back into a dog fight, but the great Dane came out unscathed with birdies at the 16th and 17th to move to 18 under par.

Scot Ewen Ferguson was nicely poised on 15 under par with one hole left to play but the 21 year old carded a double bogey on the last to end any hopes he held of forcing a late twist.

All Hansen had to do was safely get through the last hole and he did just that, carding a par before countrymen Niklas Norgaard Møller and Martin Ovesen raced onto the green and sprayed the winner with champagne before giving him a Turkish bath by dragging him into the lake which separates the ninth and 18th holes at Gloria Golf Club.

The Dane was delighted to secure his first triumph and finally a end nine-year wait for a Challenge Tour trophy.

“I’m very relieved and satisfied to win after so many years,” he said. “I have had five second places before so to finally get it done down the stretch is a great feeling.

“I didn’t know what to expect to shoot today so six under and almost nothing to set a finger on is very satisfying and I’m proud of myself.

“It feels good to get my first Challenge Tour win. After so many second places I felt like ‘am I ever going to win? Is it possible?’

“I won in February earlier this year in a third level tournament and picked up my first pro victory.

“Hopefully I can keep playing good golf for the rest of the year, stay in the top 15 and go further next year.

“I played very solid, I hit a lot of greens and I forced a lot of putts on the front nine. I kept hitting good shots from tee to green. Just two three-putts on the back nine were the only mistakes I made today.

“I made a lot of birdies today and they were all really good. I didn’t think some putts were going to go in but they did go in and I kept it going.”

With victory in Turkey Hansen moves to second place on the Road to Ras Al Khamiah with 57,543 points, more than 35,000 points behind Gagli who took a huge leap towards the European Tour with a share of second place in Antalya.

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