Friday, 19 March 2010
England’s Benn Barham completed his maiden Challenge Tour victory and the biggest win of his career when he took the NCC Open at Soderasens in Sweden.

A closing 72 for 273, 11 under par, saw the 25 year old from Kent take the top prize by two strokes from fellow Englishman Paul Dwyer, with two more Englishmen, Grant Hamerton and Simon Wakefield and Hennie Walters from South Africa in third spot on 277.

Although Barham led by three overnight, it wasn’t all plain sailing. He gave away his advantage in the first four holes with three bogeys. "I was very nervous because I'd never been in this position before," he said. He managed to birdie the seventh but dropped further shots at the ninth and 10th.

"I saw the leaderboard at the 11th and I was behind Paul and said to myself 'pull yourself together'," he added.

It worked as he then eagled the long 12th and followed with birdies at the 13th and 14th. Although he dropped another shot at 16, when he arrived at the final tee he found he was two ahead.

"I knew then that nine under was the best in the clubhouse and I could afford to bogey the short par-four last and still win," he added.

But he managed a par four for his 72 and added: "This win is so important to me as it now allows me to play in every tournament and hopefully to go on and secure my tour card."

Dwyer finished with five birdies in a bogey-free 66 for second spot, his highest Challenge Tour finish, while Hamerton carded 68 and Wakefield and Walters 71

Sweden's Marten Olander, second at the start, slipped back with a 75 for 279, while England's Stuart Little also dropped back with 74 for 280. But his prize enabled him to climb from third to second on the Challenge Tour rankings.

Barham, 25, who has never won anything significant outside his native Kent, climbed from 28th to eight on the rankings and is the sixth British winner this year in eight Challenge Tour events.

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