Wolfgang Huget gave Germany its first Challenge Tour victory in four years when he stormed to a three-shot win in the Galeria Kaufhof Pokal Challenge. Despite two stoppages for thunderstorms, Huget finished on 22 under par 270 after posting a closing 67 with fellow countryman Tino Schuster, who also shot 67, second on 273.
Joint third was another German, Alex Cejka, who returned 68, and the English pair of Ben Mason (67) and Sam Walker (68).
Huget began the final round three clear and although playing partner, Cejka, got to within two strokes with a birdie at the first hole, he was never able to close the gap further.
This was Huget’s third victory of the year, his previous wins coming in the domestic events including a 10-shot winning margin in the German PGA Championship over the same course at Golfpark Rittergut Birkhof.
But this was only his eighth Challenge Tour event in two years. His two previous outings this year resulting in a missed cut in the Credit Suisse Private Banking Open in Switzerland last month and fifth place in the Nykredit Danish Open last week.
So he was in good form and even two interruptions for storms failed to faze the 24 year old. He got into his stride with a birdie-two at the fourth then eagled the long fifth by holing a sand wedge from 75 metres.
He reached the turn in 34 and 19 under and although he dropped a shot at the 10th, he immediately bounced back with a birdie at the 11th followed by his second eagle at 12 with a five metre putt.
If that didn’t convince the chasing pack that this was his day then back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th certainly did. He could even afford to drop a shot at the par four last and still win comfortably.
“After the two successive birdies I felt safe,” he said. Then I made a solid par at the short 17th and although I made bogey at the last it wasn’t important.
“My aim is to get my card through the Challenge Tour this year. I have been to the Qualifying School twice and missed the cut on both occasions. Now that I have won I can pick my events and plan my season much better.”
Schuster will reflect that, but for dropping four strokes on the final hole of his third round, he would have taken the first prize. Nevertheless, his closing 67 contained an eagle and five birdies and will boost Germany’s strength on the Challenge Tour.
Cejka found seven birdies but crucially suffered two bogeys, while Mason has seven birdies in his 67, and Walker, who enjoyed another successful week, had six in his 68.
Sebastien Delagrange strengthened his position as N.1 on the rankings with another high finish, his cause being helped by an astonishing eagle at the final hole. The Frenchman had hit his drive when the first interruption came and play resumed he was left with an approach to the green.
Taking just an eight iron, sand wedge and putter with him, Delagrange then holed his eight iron for a two and signed for a 67.
But he douldn't deny Huget, who is the eighth first-time winner in 10 Challenge Tour events this year and his victory is the first by a German since Erol Simsek won the Austrian and Neuchatel Opens in the summer of 1997.