Denmark’s Mads Vibe-Hastrup charged through the field over the closing holes to win the San Paolo Vita & Asset Management Open at Margara in Italy and virtually secure his European Tour card for the 2002 season.
The 22 year old from Helsingor claimed his maiden Challenge Tour title after firing three birdies and an eagle over the last six holes for a final round of 65, seven under par, and a 21 under par total of 267, one clear of local favourite Alberto Binaghi and Swede Pehr Magnebrant.
With six holes to play, the 22 year old from Helsingor was well off the pace but after a birdie three on the 13th, Vibe-Hastrup hit the perfect drive and three iron to 20 feet on the 14th to set up an eagle three. A magnificent four iron to the 15th, pitching just two feet from the hole, set up another birdie and suddenly he was in the frame for his first victory. Pars followed on the next two but on the final hole the Dane recovered from a poor drive with a brilliant pitch to ten feet to set up a winning birdie.
“I never thought it was possible to win this tournament,” he said. “It was only when I birdied the the 15th I thought I might have a chance. It is unbelievable. This is far far away from any of my expectations this season. Now I have secured my card for The European Tour. Every time I think about it it brings tears to my eyes.”
Victory lifted Vibe-Hastrup to ninth in the Challenge Tour Rankings and with the top 15 graduating to The European Tour and only three events left this season he is almost certain to be taking his place alongside the likes of Danish Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn next season.
Australian Peter Fowler claimed fourth place but it was a disappointing day for England’s Mark Foster, joint leader with Binaghi overnight, whose chance of a third victory of the season disappeared when he double bogeyed the par three 15th hole and then dropped another shot on the 16th. The 26-year-old from Worksop, who currently leads the Challenge Tour Rankings, eventually closed with level par 72 and a share of fifth place with two other Englishmen, Gary Clark and Richard Bland, along with Italian Frederico Bizazza and Swedes Peter Hedblom and Klas Eriksson on 17 under par 271.