Sweden's Johan Edfors collected his second Challenge Tour title of the year when he won the Fortis Challenge Open in Holland. A closing round of 70 for 273, 15 under par, gave the 27 year old from Gothenburg a two stroke winning margin over fellow Swede, Kalle Brink, who returned an eight-birdie 65, the best of the day.
The two Swedes were followed home at Burggolf Purmerend near Amsterdam by two Englishmen, Mark Sanders finishing third on 12 under par 276, after a 70, while left-hander Stuart Little was two strokes further back also with 70.
Edfors’s triumph, which followed his maiden victory in Zambia in March, earned him almost 22,500 euro, hoisted him to the top of the Rankings and proved he has become a force on the Challenge Tour.
He led the tournament from start to finish and the two-stroke lead he took into the final round was never under threat. “I played really well all week and was very confident going into the final round,” he said.
“My main aim was just to hit the fairways and greens and not to take any risks. If I could do that I’d shoot two or three under which would be hard to beat.
“I knew most of the way that no one was making a charge but I got a bit nervous when I double-bogeyed the 15th. But I still knew that if I could par my way home I would be safe.”
That’s exactly what he did and at 15 under he knew that Brink had set the target on 13 under with his brilliant 65, coming home in 32.
Earlier, Edfors had got to 17 under with five birdies of his own as well as a three-putt bogey at the short ninth. But it was the double-bogey five at 15 that pulled him up sharp. It came when his foot slipped on his tee shot and the ball flew 80 yards left and was never seen again.
However, he almost holed from 50 feet for birdie at the short 16th, then hit “my best shot of the week” with a sand wedge from thick rough over water to the 17th green and two-putted from 30 feet to save his par.
At the 580-yard 18th, Edfors played safe by hitting a five iron off the tee then a three wood into the left rough before firing a sand wedge to the green and two-putting for another par and victory.
“My putting has been great all week,” he added. “I missed hardly anything from five feet in while my whole game was solid. The victory in Zambia gave me a lot of confidence which has stayed with me.”
Sanders, who celebrated his 29th birthday last Friday, reeled off ten pars before securing back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th. That left him three strokes adrift of Edfors but he came to grief on the par four 13th when he ran up a double bogey to end his hopes of top spot.
He rallied with a birdie-three at the next and although he picked up another shot at the 580-yard 18th for an inward 34, it was all in vain. However, he picked up 8,427 euro to move from 24th to 15th on the Rankings.
Little started the day five behind Edfors and was still five adrift at the turn. But although he eagled the long 11th, a bogey at the par four 15th ended his chances.
South Africa’s Ryan Reid, who began the day two behind Edfors, failed to find a single birdie and a double-bogey six at the tenth saw him sign for 74 to share fifth place on 279 with Spain’s Jose Manuel Carriles and Brett Rumford from Australia with 73.
Carriles roared up the leaderboard with a string of birdies, running in six without dropping a shot in a fine 66 to get to nine under.
Cesar Monasterio from Argentina also temporarily posed a threat as he reeled off five birdies. However, back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th halted his progress but a 68 saw him finish tied eighth on 280 with Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa, who returned 71.