Christian Cevaer became the fourth Frenchman to win a Challenge Tour title this year when he carded a closing round of 64 for 268, 20 under par, to win the Finnish Masters in Helsinki. He finished a shot clear of playing partner, Pehr Magnebrant, from Sweden, who went round in 67, and three ahead of Germany’s Tobias Dier, who shot 66.
Helsinki is becoming a happy hunting ground for Cevaer. He won the Volvo Finnish Open there in 1998 and has never missed a cut in four visits to the Finnish capital.
Having also returned 64 in round three, the 30-year-old who was born in New Caledonia, was 16 under par for his final two rounds. “I always have a good time in Finland," he said modestly.
Starting the day two behind Magnebrant, Cevaer had two birdies in the first three holes to catch Magnebrant, but the Swede moved two clear again when Cevaer bogeyed the fourth while Mangebrant birdied the fifth.
However, Cevaer’s chipping and putting was as sharp as a razor and he closed the gap to one at the long ninth with a 50-foot downhill putt for an eagle-three while Magnebrant added a further birdie.
But the turning point came when Cevaer ran in three successive birdies from the 12th while Magnebrant’s reply was to pick up a shot at the 13th. They were level on 19 under but Cevaer’s birdies included a chip-in from 60 feet at the 14th which was a dagger to Magnebrant’s heart.
Then, when Cevaer birdied the long 16th he was ahead for the first time. Both parred the short 17th then at the last Cevaer missed the green right but chipped to four feet and holed for par while Magnebrant needed to sink his 40-footer to force a playoff but left it a foot short.
“I’ve never seen someone chip and putt so brilliantly as Christian,” said Magnebrant. “I played pretty well but it wasn’t good enough.”
Cevaer, whose prize of 21,510 euro (£12,994) moves him to third on the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, said: “I committed to some sever swing changes in 1998 because my game wasn’t at the level that the European Tour demands. Now it seems to be playing off.
“My plan today was to beat my personal record of 15 under and I took each hole as it came. You always need a good short game to shoot 64 but the breaks that told me I could win was the eagle putt on nine and the chip-in at 14.
“Now I have a good category on the Challenge Tour and I can plan the rest of my season much better.”
Dier, in his first season on the Challenge Tour, had eight birdies in his 66 and said: “I couldn’t have played any better.”
Graeme Storm, the 1999 Amateur champion from England, carded his lowest round as a professional with a 65 for 274 and fourth place which earned him 6,455 euro (£3,900).
Tour veteran Magnus Persson climbed up to joint eighth with an amazing 66 which included three eagles, five birdies, five bogeys and five pars.
David Higgins from Ireland still leads the Order of Merit but his lead over second placed Henrik Stenson has been cut to just over 7,000 euro after the Swede finished fifth on 275.