Friday, 19 March 2010
Matthew Blackey ended five years without a tour victory when he won the Formby Hall Challenge on Merseyside. A closing 67 for 275, 13 under par, left him a shot ahead of fellow Englishman David Dixon, who returned 71, and Ireland's Damien McGrane, who came up on the rails with 65.

For Blackey, who hails from Hampshire but was born a few miles from Formby at Lytham St Annes, it was a victory he felt would never come. But his form in recent weeks has suggested something good was about to happen and he came through in style.

"I needed a good week to secure my spot on the Order of Merit but now that I've confirmed my card for next year it will be a big confidence booster," he said after learning he had climbed to third.

Nevertheless, the tournament was in McGrane's hands as he raced through the field to lead on 13 under with three to play. But after two solid pars, his drive found the water on the par five 18th and led to a bogey six, which was to see the title slip away for the second successive year.

A year ago the 31 year old Irishman led by three going into the final day only to shoot 76 and finish third. The title slipped through his fingers again as Blackey, on 10 under with four to play, finished eagle-birdie-bogey-birdie to get to 13 under.

Only Dixon could catch him but when he failed to birdie the 14th and 15th, two par fives, and double bogeyed the short 16th to slip to 10 under, it seemed Blackey was home and dry. But to Dixon credit he bounced back to birdie the 17th and needed a three at the last to force a play-off.

He made the green in two but his 25-foot eagle putt finished a foot away and the tap-in birdie meant he finished alongside McGrane, a shot shy of Blackey.

"I set myself a target of 15 under, which might have been a little high but would definitely win," said Blackey. "I felt if I could get close to that I would have a chance. But I knew Damien was going well and when I got to the 17th I saw I was tied with Damien and David.

"I knew I had to make birdie at the last and I hit a good drive. Then I was between clubs but opted for a three wood and pulled it into the trap short of the green. But the ball came out perfectly and rolled up to 18 inches. I was shaking but it went in."

He then waited to see if Dixon could catch him and when he came up short, Blackey could start celebrating with his mother Jeanette, who had travelled up from Hampshire to watch him.

Dixon was bitterly disappointed after coming so close to his first title and rued the missed chance at the 15th and the double bogey at the 16th. "My concentration went a little when I missed the birdie at the 15th and the double at the 16th meant I had to go for it over the last two holes.

"I didn't really hit the eagle putt well at the last so it was nearly but not quite. I played a bit scrappy today but this is my best finish of the year."

There was joy and disappointment for two Swedes. On a day when the birdies flew thick and fast, Hampus Von Post returned 65, ripping it through 16 holes with an eagle and six birdies. That got him to 12 under and within sight of the title, but he drove in to the trees at the 17th to run up his only bogey and finished fourth on 11 under 279.

Raimo Sjoberg, who led after two rounds and began the final day one off the pace, suffered the disappointment. But he couldn’t make any progress and a 73 left him joint fifth on 279 with former England international David Griffiths, who marked his Challenge Toru debut with a closing with 68.

Shaun Webster, a Challenge Tour winner two years ago, was another to shoot 65 with an eagle and six birdies, while 66s was recorded by Ireland’s Peter Lawrie and John Wells from England.

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
1BLACKEY, MatthewENG18-13
T2DIXON, DavidENG18-12
T2MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-12
4VON POST, HampusSWE18-11
T5GRIFFITHS, DavidENG18-9
T5SJÖBERG, RaimoSWE18-9
R2D Fantasy

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