Friday, 19 March 2010
Mark Foster sealed his second victory of the year with a closing 69 in the Charles Church Challenge Tour Championship at hot and sunny Bowood Golf and Country Club in Wiltshire.

The former England champion finished on 11 under par 277, two shots ahead of another Englishman, Philip Golding and Frenchman, Sebastien Delagrange, and three clear of Italy's Francesco Guermani, all of whom returned 70.

The victory, which followed Foster's initial success in the Zambia Open in March, is an early birthday present as he turns 26 on Wednesday. It also hoists him to the top of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit and secures his card for the European Tour next year.

Foster began the day two strokes behind Andrew Marshall and still trailed him with six holes left. But Marshall bogeyed four of those holes for a 76, while Foster picked up two birdies in an inward 33.

That put the Foster on terms with Delagrange but the crucial hole was the 165-yard 17th where Delagrange took four, while Foster rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to secure his two-shot winning lead.

"It is never easy to win on the Challenge Tour but that victory in Zambia helped me coming down the stretch," said Foster. "It was a tough day because there was a stiff breeze and the greens had been baked hard by the sun. There were also some tough pin positions and anything less than a perfect putt didn't go in.

"I didn't feel safe until the final putt dropped but I think I can safely say I've got my card now."

Foster leap-frogged Delagrange into top spot, the Frenchman ruing leaving his tee shot short at the 17th, and he was joined in second place by Golding, who declared: "I did the damage yesterday with that 73 and I didn't knock anything close today."

Guermani completed a successful week with a closing five-birdie 70 for 280 and fourth place on his own, while the unfortunate Marshall finished joint fifth on 281 to be joined by Richard Bland with 74 and Lee James, who signed for a best-of-the-day 67 with seven birdies after bogeys at his opening two holes.

Also on 281 was Sweden’s Mattias Nilsson, who got to 11 under after holing a wedge from 140 yards for an eagle-two at the fifth. But he struggled from then on; four bogeys and a double bogey six at the last after he took two to exit a fairway bunker, resulting in a 75.

Two more Swedes, Peter Hedblom and Per Larsson finished joint ninth on 282 after 69 and 72 respectively, along with Australian John Wade with 70.

England’s Gary Clark also had cause to celebrate. He holed-in-one with a four iron at the 204 yard second hole, his first ace as a professional. He followed it with three birdies in an outward 31 and eventually signed for 68 to also finish on 282.

Foster’s move to No.1 on the rankings relegates Delegrange to second place, while Marshall climbs to third above Peter Hanson of Sweden, winner of last week’s Gunther Hamburg Classics.

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
1FOSTER, MarkENG18-11
T2DELAGRANGE, SébastienFRA18-9
T2GOLDING, PhilipENG18-9
4GUERMANI, FrancescoITA18-8
T5MARSHALL, AndrewENG18-7
T5DAMBERG, MattiasSWE18-7
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