Finland’s Antti Ahokas secured his maiden European Challenge Tour title after a final round 71 helped him to a three-shot win at the 103rd Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot at Hurlingham Golf Club, in Buenos Aires.
In so doing, Ahokas also became the first left hander to triumph at the event, which is co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas.
Ahokas’ 10 under par aggregate score 270 was enough to fend off the dual home challenge of runner up Martin Monguzzi, who led the event after the first day, and Estanislao Goya in third place.
Goya finished a further shot behind Monguzzi on six under par, thereby failing to record back-to-back victories after his win at last week’s Abierto del Centro presentado por Personal in Cordoba.
But the 19 year old Argentine could console himself with the fact that he now heads England’s Iain Pyman at the top of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit after five events of the 2008 season.
Ahokas’ €21,149 winner’s cheque helped the Finn climb to fifth place in the Rankings. He said: “I can’t believe it just yet. My career as a pro is only starting, and to be honest I didn’t expect to win a tournament as big as this one.”
In stark contrast, Ahokas’ previous visit to Argentina in 2006, when he made his professional debut in the same tournament, had been a chastening experience for the young Finn.
“I played so poorly last time around that I even questioned my decision to turn pro,” he said. “But fortunately, golf always brings an opportunity for redemption.”
Although Monguzzi was able to move within a stroke of the lead at one point on Sunday, Ahokas’ title hopes never seriously appeared in doubt.
His distance off the tee and an immaculate short game combined to make the 23 year old an unstoppable force around Hurlingham Club’s testing course.
He said: “As I said after the third round, the key was to survive the first four holes. While the other players in contention lost a few strokes, I was able to make par on that stretch.”
Monguzzi matched Ahokas’ final day round 71 to finish the tournament on seven under par and so collect a runner up cheque for €14,099. The 26 year old from Cordoba said: “This week has been an unforgettable one for me.”
His fellow countryman Estanislao Goya, whose victory in Cordoba was the first of his professional career, carded a round of 70 on the final day to secure third place ahead of another Argentine, Rodolfo Gonzalez, who finished a further shot back on five under par.
Ireland’s Stephen Browne, who led the tournament after two rounds, headed a quartet of Brits on four under par: David Horsey and Edward Rush of England, and Scotland’s Eric Ramsay.