Argentina’s Rafael Echenique produced a wonderfully fitting finish to secure his first Challenge Tour victory Telia Challenge Waxholm, covering his last four holes in three under par to post a final round of two under par 71 for a 22 under 270 total and take the €19,547 first prize by two strokes from Germany’s Martin Kaymer.
Echenique, who led the tournament from start to finish, may have posted the highest of his four rounds on the last day, but given the pressure he came under in the closing stages, Sunday’s 71 was every bit as good as his three previous scores of 65-68-66.
The 25 year old began the day with a five shot lead, but found himself under severe pressure as Kaymer emerged from the chasing pack to mount the most serious challenge to his dominance.
Moving onto the par four 13th, Echenique glanced at the on course leaderboards for the first time and saw the German was within a stroke of his lead. Echenique immediately double-bogeyed the 13th to put himself in danger of losing out on a title that seemed to have his name written on the trophy from the moment he began the week with a new course record of eight under par 65 at the Waxholm Golf club.
But, as he has done all week, Echenique composed himself before finding the wherewithal to produce his best golf under fantastic pressure. A birdie four at the par five 15th got him back on track before he made the last two holes, played under the most testing of circumstances, look easy, knocking in two easy birdies to ensure that two shot win.
“I am so happy just now, I am not sure what the feeling is,” said Echenique, who is now fourth on the Challenge Tour Rankings with season’s earnings of €60,360
“I want to dedicate this victory to my wife Marina and my daughter Lara, my caddie José, as well as my parents and all of my family and friends back in San Luis in Argentina. I am proud of the way I played today, and hopefully I can take a top ten place on the Rankings at the end of the season.
“I felt alright today until the 13th! Before I played that hole I looked at the leaderboards for the first time and saw that Martin Kaymer was getting close to me. I don’t know if it was that or just that I played the hole badly but I made the double bogey there and just started thinking that maybe looking at the boards was not such a good idea.
“But I finished with the three birdies and that was very pleasing. I am very happy to have won, I played well from the start of the week and handled the pressure of having a five shot lead going into the final round, so it has been a great week for me.”