Sunday, 30 March 2008

Estanislao Goya went one better than fellow 19 year old Oliver Fisher earlier in the day when he triumphed in a play-off, beating England’s Gary Boyd to win the Abierto Visa del Centro presentado por Personal on the European Challenge Tour.

Fisher lost at the first extra hole to Thomas Levet on The European Tour but Goya ensured there would be no repeat of that at Cordoba Golf Club, a birdie three doing the needful at the first extra hole for the Argentine to give him the €20,716 (£16,140) first prize and a move to third on the Challenge Tour Rankings.

Both players had stormed home to finish the regulation 72 holes on 12 under par 272, Goya carding four birdies in the last seven holes for a 66 while Boyd went even better with six birdies in his last eight holes for a 65.

Ironically, neither player birdied the 18th in their respective rounds but Goya put that statistic right when they returned to the hole moments later, a three seeing him claim his maiden Challenge Tour title, leaving Boyd the consolation of moving to fourth on the Rankings.

"I have worked very hard for this and I just want to enjoy it," said Goya, who only turned professional four months ago after winning the Tour de las Americas Qualifying School in Florida by nine shots, breaking Johnnie Miller's 32 year old course record 63 at the Bonaventure Country Club with a sparking 61 on his way to victory.

"It is a good start to my professional career. It was great to play in the last group of a big event for the first time and hopefully I will be in the same position in other big tournaments in the future. I am just going to keep working hard and taking one day at a time," added the Argentine, who became the youngest winner in the tournament's 77 year history.

While the leading duo shared the closing limelight, much of the day’s earlier plaudits went to England’s James Heath who produced some truly sensational golf to post a final round 62 to move from a share of 20th at the start of the day to finish third on ten under par 274.

The 25 year old Londoner – who won the Ecco Tour Championship on the Challenge Tour in 2006 to help qualify for The 2007 European Tour before losing his card at the end of last season – included two eagles to be seven under par for his round through 12 holes.

At that time he was threatening the lead but although he battled gamely over the closing six holes, Heath’s only other birdie of the day came at the par five 16th, not enough to make the play-off a three man affair.

Third round leader, Dutchman Taco Remkes, saw his run of birdies dry up and a closing round of one over par 72 consigned him to fourth place on eight under par 276, while two shots further back in a share of sixth place, were four players including the defending champion Angel Cabrera.

The reigning US Open Champion – who will defend his crown at Torrey Pines in California in June – is a fervent supporter of the event which is the first official tournament of the 2008 Tour de las Americas season as well as being co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and was champion in the past three years.

The 38 year old’s hopes of a fourth consecutive title were slim when he started the final round seven shots off the pace and although he equalled his best round of the week with a closing 67 for a six under par total of 278, it was not enough.

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