England’s Ross McGowan secured his maiden professional victory after a sudden-death play-off against Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera at the European Challenge Tour’s Oceanico Developments Pro-Am Challenge.
The 25 year old from Surrey, who defeated Oli Fisher to take the English Amateur title last summer, carded a final round of three under par 67 to tie Lorenzo-Vera on 15 under 265 at the Marriott Worsley Park Hotel and Country Club and force the tournament into extra holes.
McGowan made sure of victory with a par four at the second sudden-death play-off hole to secure the first prize of €23,600 and move to 11th on the Challenge Tour Rankings. McGowan is now eyeing a place alongside Fisher on The 2008 European Tour by taking one of the 20 available cards available through the Rankings.
“It’s not really sunk in yet so I don’t really know what to think, I’m more relieved than anything just now to have come through the play-off but I know that it’s a tremendous win for me,” said McGowan.
“I have been close a few times this year but got impatient and let some chances to win slip away, so I just tried to stay patient this week and it has worked out for me. That was some thing that I was very conscious of this week and it paid off.
“I was three off the lead today and just went out trying to hit fairways and greens early on. Then, all of a sudden I rolled a couple of ten footers at the first and second for birdie and I was right in there.
“That’s when staying patient became the key factor for me, and that’s why it was so satisfying to come through.”
A dramatic final round at the Marriott Worsley Park Hotel and Country Club ended with Lorenzo-Vera and McGowan inseparable at the top of the leaderboard after the Frenchman’s fourth round 66 had given him the clubhouse lead that McGowan matched just 15 minutes later.
With the scorecards signed and approved, the two men made their way back to the 18th tee to determine a sudden-death winner.
McGowan lipped out for birdie at the first extra hole, meaning another trip back to the 18th tee to do it all again. Another two great drives meant the pair were still neck and neck but Lorenzo-Vera’s approach skidded off the back of the green, while McGowan found the heart of the putting surface.
With an awkward lie against the fringe, Lorenzo-Vera knocked his third shot to ten feet but, after McGowan had made an easy two putt for par, the Frenchman could not hole out, leaving McGowan to celebrate his maiden success.
“This is such a huge win because I can now concentrate on getting my European Tour card through the Challenge Tour. This is the first huge step in my pro career and very exciting,” said McGowan.
Lorenzo-Vera can take massive consolation in the fact the he is enjoying a superb season. His second place prize of €16,227 elevates him to sixth place on the Rankings after a tremendously consistent start to the season.