Sunday, 06 May 2018
Oscar Lengden following victory in Spain  (European Tour)
Oscar Lengden following victory in Spain (European Tour)

Oscar Lengden displayed a devastating back nine performance to win the Challenge de España at Izki Golf on 15 under par.

The Swede began the day tied for the lead with Wil Besseling but he pulled away from the rest of the field with a superb five under par back nine.

Lengden started as he meant to go on with a birdie at the first hole, immediately seizing the initiative as playing partner Besseling went down for par.

Three successive pars followed as the Swede held on to his good early start, with Besseling remaining a shot behind with pars on every one of the first seven holes.

A birdie at the fifth and a bogey at the sixth meant Lengden stayed at 11 under par, with Besseling registering a birdie at the eighth to join him on 11 under.

A bogey on the ninth, however, meant the 25 year old dropped back to ten under at the turn, with Englishman Ross McGowan breathing down his neck after picking up two front nine shots.

And McGowan kept on charging towards the top of the leaderboard with three consecutive birdies to begin the back nine.

The three gains moved McGowan to 12 under par and gave him the outright lead as Lengden and Besseling were suddenly the chasers.

But following back-to-back pars at the tenth and 11th, Lengden stepped it up a gear.

Successive birdies at the 12th and 13th drew him level with McGowan before another gain at the par four 15th gave him the outright lead with three holes to play.

McGowan, playing in the penultimate group of the day, carded a bogey at the par three 17th to give Lengden some breathing space, as Besseling too dropped a shot by going down in five on the par four 16th.

With a birdie at the 17th, Lengden opened a three-shot lead over Besseling and McGowan as the crowds surrounded the 18th green to welcome their champion in waiting.

And the Swede didn’t disappoint. He stroked home a superb birdie putt on the 18th to seal his victory in the best possible way and secure his second European Challenge Tour title.

Despite admitting to being overwhelmed by the win, Lengden, who received a traditional Spanish beret – a Txapela – following his triumph, believes the way he expertly navigated the back nine to achieve victory will enhance his self confidence.

“I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “It was a great back nine, I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m very pleased right now and I’ll probably be even happier later tonight.

“The back nine was really crucial. It’s great for my self confidence to know that I’m able to do that. I’m really pleased with the way I closed this tournament.

“The final hole was a nice feeling. I was trying to enjoy the moment, even though I couldn’t really relax because I’ve obviously seen people choke out. It felt great to close out with a birdie as well and it means a lot.

“It was a really steady week. This is the first time that I’ve felt like I’ve been in control over my swing. It was a great week and I hope this is the start of something really stable. It’s been a great week for me.”

Victory in Spain moves Oscar Lengden to fifth place on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah with 43,310 points, just under 53,000 points behind Number One Lorenzo Gagli. Ross McGowan, meanwhile, moves up to tenth position on 25,750 points with his finish of tied second.

 

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