Finland’s Roope Kakko and Mikko Korhonen won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup European Qualifier in Poland by eight strokes to secure their ticket to China alongside Canada and Portugal.
Kakko and Korhonen carded an impressive one under par 71 in the final round foursomes at Sierra Golf Club to pull away from Wes Heffernan and Graham DeLaet of Canada, who struggled to a 77 in cold blustery conditions.
Portugal's Tiago Cruz and Ricardo Santos held onto their third place comfortably for the third and final ticket to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China in November after closing with a 79.
Team Finland were thrilled to qualify after a superb performance in extremely tough conditions. Of only 11 birdies scored on the front nine, Finland made five of them on a day where strong wind and rain made scoring difficult.
"Yesterday was tough but today was brutal," said Kakko, who is a regular on the Challenge Tour.
"It was down to luck, pure luck today. That and staying on the fairway. We had a bit of an adventure on the fourth hole where Mikko had to make a four meter putt for double bogey but after that we played great."
Karhonen said the team's partnership was outstanding despite playing together for the first time in the alternate shot format this week. "We have played on the same team in competition before as amateurs but this is the first time we have played as partners in a fourball and foursomes format. We always had the feeling that we would make a good team. It is going to be great to go to China and play in the World Cup with the top players. We are really looking forward to it.”
The Canadians got off to a poor start on the front nine shooting double bogey on the second but rallied on the back nine to finish just five over for the day and secure their place in the World Cup line up. It will be DeLaet’s maiden trip to the World Cup and Heffernan's second having at Mission Hills Golf Club last year with Mike Weir.
"We missed some fairways today and didn’t putt well," said Heffernan. “The front nine was ugly but the back nine was OK. We managed a couple of birdies on the back. It was tough playing alternate shot in these conditions, particularly when you are making bogeys. It is difficult to find your rhythm.”
DeLaet added: “We went out there to win today so it’s a little disappointing that we didn’t play well but our main reason for coming here was to get to China and we’ve achieved that so we are happy. If you’d told us at the beginning of the week we’d qualify in second place, we’d have taken it.”
The Portuguese team of Cruz and Santos showed their class in the tough conditions shooting 79 to remain in third place, seven shots clear of fourth place Switzerland. "Today was really tough," said Santos. “The wind was really strong today, stronger than yesterday and the pin positions were much harder.”
“Tiago and I played the first nine OK. Just one mistake on the seventh that cost us a bogey. The second nine wasn’t so good. We missed a few shots and we were just trying hard to make no worse than bogey. We managed to keep it together.”
Portugal’s qualification marks their first return to the World Cup since 2005 when Jose-Filipe Lima and António Sobrinho player on home soil in Vilamoura.
Final Round - results (top three qualified)
267 – Finland (Roope KAKKO / Mikko KORHONEN)
275 - Canada (Graham DELAET / Wes HEFFERNAN)
281 – Portugal (Tiago CRUZ / Ricardo SANTOS)
288 – Switzerland (André BOSSERT / Martin ROMINGER)
290 – Czech Republic (Jakub KUCERA / Ondrej LEBL),
294 - Iceland (Heidar BRAGASON / Bjorgvin SIGURBERGSSON)
298 - Norway (Paul NILBRINK / Kristoffer REE), Israel (Itamar COHEN / Oren GERI)
300 - Belgium (Gerald GRESSE / Laurent RICHARD)
304 - Poland (Jakub OSSOWSKI / Marcin STELMASIAK)
314 – Slovenia (Janez GRILC / Damjan MURGELJ)
316 – Greece (George DIAKOU / Themis GINIS)
323 – Croatia (Darko LJUBANOVIC / Miro RAIC)
Note: Fourball used in first and third rounds, Foursomes (alternate shot) used in the Second and final founds.