Marcel Schneider slept on the lead for three straight nights and on Sunday he finished the job — winning the Swiss Challenge presented by Association Suisse de Golf by six shots.
The German opened the tournament with a stunning eight under par 63, and following consecutive clean scorecards over the next two days, he started the final round five strokes clear of Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen and seven ahead of fellow countryman Julian Kunzenbacher and England’s Garrick Porteous.
Schneider birdied three of his first four holes at Golf Sempachersee on Day Four as his lead continued to grow. However, after making only his second bogey of the week on the ninth hole, and another on the 12th it appeared there may have been some drama down the home stretch.
The 28 year old, who had been remarkably poised all week, did not let the adversity get to him, and when he birdied the 14th he had restored his five-shot cushion. A four on the par five 17th allowed him to enjoy his long-awaited walk up the final hole and into the winner’s circle, where he was greeted with a champagne shower from his close friends and fellow countrymen on the European Challenge Tour.
“I can’t describe it,” said Schneider. “For four days I played really, really awesome golf and I’m so happy about that.”
No victory in professional golf comes easy, and wire-to-wire victories are perhaps even more difficult, as they require a player to deal with the inevitable thoughts of winning for days on end.
“After the first day I said to a couple friends of mine, don’t celebrate too much because I’m the type of guy to shoot really low on one day and the next day I struggle to have the same performance,” the newly minted champion said.
“This time it was different. I played another great round on the second day, and I thought to myself, ‘continue with your strategy, your plan and the way you’re playing.’
“I’ll admit, I thought about how it would feel if I won, and what my strategy may be if the gap was reduced, but I always made sure I didn’t let my thoughts go too much towards myself. I would just have a quick thought about it and then let it go.”
With the win, Schneider jumped 125 places on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings and now sits only one spot outside of the coveted top 15.
He will now travel to Austria to take place in the European Tour’s innovative Shot Clock Masters next week.
“I probably won’t celebrate here for too long because Monday I drive straight to Vienna, but you can be sure I’ll celebrate some time,” he said.The Challenge Tour International Schedule makes its next stop at L’Empereur Golf and Country Club in Ways, Belgium for the KPMG Trophy from June 7-10.