Englishman Gareth Davies secured a stunning victory at the Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge, carding a final round 66 for a four round total of 15 under par 265 to take the title and secure his place on the European Challenge Tour for the remainder of the 2004 season.
In taking the title, Davies has elevated his golfing career beyond the bounds of his imagination after arriving in Egypt as an invitee to the tournament. With his maiden Challenge Tour victory now secured, the 26 year old from Sheffield can now plan an assault on the Rankings as he tries to secure a coveted spot in the top 15, and with it a place on European Tour International Schedule 2005.
Starting the final round in the last match of the day alongside Switzerland’s André Bossert on 11 under par, Davies had to look on helplessly as his playing partner picked up two birdies in a row on the sixth and seventh to take a two shot lead, while Neil Cheetham flew out of the blocks – picking up three shots in his opening four holes to get to 12 under.
Davies displayed all the calmness of a champion though, and got his round going with a birdie on the ninth, then found himself level with Bossert and one ahead Cheetham, who respectively bogeyed the 11th and sixth.
Cheetham then moved into the lead, picking up shots on the 13th and 15th to get to 13 under par, but he could not add to that total and Davies put together three gutsy birdies at 13, 15 and 16 to give himself a two shot cushion with two holes to play.
“I don’t really know what to say at the moment – I can’t believe I’ve won,” said Davies after securing the first prize of €16,631 that sees him enter the Challenge Tour Rankings in eighth spot.
“I am proud of how I played and kept it together – because there were affair few butterflies in my stomach throughout the day.
“When I made birdie on the 16th to take a two shot lead I started to think that it was mine to throw away, which was a little bit negative, but I kept myself together and got home safely.
“I had a couple of chances to win on the Euro pro Tour last season, and even though I didn’t take any of them, I improved my position every time I was in contention and I think that definitely helped here today.
“Now I can step up a level to the Challenge Tour and try to get myself into the top 15 on the Rankings, but I’ve not really given any though to what I’m going to do, all I know is that I’m delighted have won.”
Cheetham took second place with his 13 under total of 267 and is now 11th on the Rankings. While he was slightly disappointed at missed opportunities, he could take nothing away from his fellow Englishman Davies.
“I did leave a few putts out there today, but Gareth has done brilliantly for himself and I’m pleased for him, it’s a wonderful achievement for him – I have nothing but congratulations for him, especially as he’s a fellow Sheffield boy!”
Bossert eventually finished level par for the day for a four round aggregate of 11 under, 269. That handed him fifth spot – one stroke behind Denmark’s Joachim Larsen and Jose Trauwitz of Mexico, who fired 66 and 67 to share third place on 12 under.
Bossert, who was playing in his first tournament since getting married three weeks ago, said: “It just wasn’t to be for me today – I kind of lost my putting stroke on the back nine but that’s the way this game goes. I don’t think my preparation or attitude were in question, it just so happened that the fairytale ending wasn’t to be for me.”