Juan Parron confirmed his status as one of European golf’s most promising talents by winning the first Challenge Tour event of his career after an all Spanish three way sudden-death play-off at the Open Mahou de Madrid.
Coupled with outstanding performances that gave him a third place finish in Guatemala, a fifth spot in Italy and a fourth place finish at the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open, Parron’s win, worth €19,200, elevated him to second place on the 2006 Challenge Tour Rankings and makes him the strongest challenger to Number One Johan Axgren of Sweden.
Axgren’s two early season victories in Costa Rica and Kenya had given him a seemingly unassailable lead in the Rankings race, but Parron’s inspired recent form has put him in a great position to push Axgren all the way.
The 23 three year old from Almeria certainly seized his chance here at the Club de Golf La Herreria, posting a final round of two under par 69 to match the 13 under totals already posted in the clubhouse by his compatriots Luis Claviere and Santiago Luna, who had both shot excellent 67s over the last 18 holes.
Parron looked likely to take the title when he moved to 14 under after a miraculous birdie on the 16th, where he ricocheted his ball between tree branches and saw it come to rest two feet form the cup. He tapped in for birdie but then went onto misjudge the wind on the 17th and flew the green with his second shot, resulting in a bogey and ensuring there would be a play-off for the title.
Claviere fell out of the play-off on the first extra hole, double bogeying the 18th after Luna and Parron had made a pair of par fours. The two men returned to the 18th tee and again halved, this time in five, before Luna found the sand with his approach at the third extra hole, and could not get up and down, taking the pressure off Parron, and allowing him to close out his victory in style with a birdie three .
“I am very happy,” said Parron. “I knew that this was going to be my week when I played that shot on the 16th today – it was spectacular and when I pulled it off I knew I would win today.
“Because of that I really didn’t feel much stress during the play-off and just played my normal game. I have been close to winning on the Challenge Tour a few times this season and it feels great to finally do it here in Spain, in front of my own people.
“This changes the perspective of my season now. I think I am close to having enough money to win a card for The European Tour now and that is what I want to make sure of.”