Welshman Garry Houston secured the European Challenge Tour’s Galeria Kaufhof Pokal Challenge after a thrilling four hole sudden-death play-off with England’s Gary Emerson.
The sudden-death shoot out was packed with tension as Emerson twice holed from six feet to stay alive, before finding the bunker on the fourth extra hole, from where he just missed his up and down.
That left Houston a tap in for the title – and a cheque for €17,600 that vaults him to third position on the Challenge Tour Rankings, with the top 15 players at the end of the season graduating to The European Tour.
“That is the monkey off my back – I’m delighted to have finally won on the Challenge Tour because I have been in contention more times than I care to remember and ended up having a poor last round
“I’m in a great position in the Rankings now, and I have to keep going from here to secure a place in the top 15, which is the ultimate prize for every Challenge Tour player.”
Houston’s play-off win capped a brilliant final round performance as he carded a seven under par 65 to draw level with Emerson, who shot 69 for a 17 under par total of 271.
Once the scorecards had been checked and signed, the two men went to the first play-off hole (the 18th) where Houston found the middle of the fairway, but landed his approach 25 feet short of the pin on the left edge of the green, while Emerson played flew his approach ten feet over the putting surface.
Emerson’s chip looked as though it was in, but shaved the hole and rolled five feet past. Houston’s putt then went close before Emerson held his nerve to hole out – a feat he would repeat as they played 18 again, this time from seven feet as Houston tapped in to half once again.
They moved onto the first to try and decide the winner, but halved the third extra hole in par, before Emerson found the bunker at 18 and could not get up and down for par.
Emerson, who moves to 38th on the Rankings, said: “You win some you lose some, and at the end of the day, Garry has played brilliantly to shoot 65 in the last round and take it to a play-off. I’m pleased to get some money on the Rankings, and it is more than likely that I will now concentrate on the Challenge Tour for the rest of the season because it is the best way back to The European Tour.”
Jean-Baptiste Gonnet took third place after his sizzling 63 in the final round at the Rittergut Birkhof Golf Club. The 21 year old, who began the final round at Rittergut Birkhof Golf Club in a tie for 18th position, propelled himself to a third place finish after his nine under par final round.
“I am so happy to finish like that,” he said. “I have been playing well all week here, but not putting well until today. I only had 26 putts today, and holed once from tem metres and another from eight metres. Everything on the greens was exceptional – what an incredible game this is!
“This is a very big step for me. To finish so high in a Challenge Tour event is a step up for me. This is my first season as a professional and I have been playing on the Alps Tour this season, so to come to a Challenge Tour event where the quality is higher, and play so well will give me a lot of confidence.
“I have seen what can happen if you do well on the Challenge Tour, because my good friend Philippe Lima has been promoted to The European Tour after his brilliant performances, so I hope that I will soon be able to follow him onto The European Tour.”