England’s Simon Robinson produced a record breaking performance to storm to his maiden Challenge Tour victory in the SK Golf Challenge in Finland.
The 26 year old from Hartlepool carded a sensational final round 63 at St Laurence Golf in Lohja for a 13 under par total of 271 to cruise to a six shot winning margin over his nearest challengers, Australian John Wade and Andrew Willey of England.
Robinson’s 63 was the lowest final round by a winner this season on the European Challenge Tour, comfortably beating the 66s carded by Argentina’s Estanislao Goya, England’s Gary Clark and Wil Besseling of the Netherlands in their respective successes earlier in the year.
Indeed, had he not dropped a shot at the very last hole, he would have equalled Besseling’s seven shot winning margin when the Dutchman took the II Club Colombia Masters in Bogota in April.
But all that mattered little to the former World Boys Amateur Champion who had had three PGA EuroPro Tour successes under his belt in the past. The win, and the cheque for €24,000 moved him to 17th on the Challenge Tour Rankings and now in excellent position to claim one of the 20 cards available for The 2009 European Tour at the end of the season.
”Compared to my previous achievements on the Tour this is something else," he said. "Before the start today I just thought that it would be better to hit the greens and keep the bogeys off the card. It worked perfectly but I managed to make lots of birdies too which was fantastic. It was a little disappointing to bogey the last after fluffing my chip but all in all it doesn't matter - it has been a fantastic tournament.
“I have to thank the promoter for putting on such a fantastic event. Playing on Tour is expensive for players on the Challenge Tour and all the complimentary food and cars we have had this week have been wonderful. Of course the people here at Lohja were a big bonus for all of us too and, if I can, I will definitely come back next year as will most of the players."
Starting the day two shots behind firm favourite and local hero Mikko Ilonen, who was lending his support to the event after failing to qualify for this week’s US Open at Torrey Pines, Robinson showed his intent straight away with a birdie at the opening hole.
He reached the turn in 32 to move into contention and as Ilonen fell back with a final round 72 to share fourth place in the end with Spain’s Sebastian Garcia-Grout on 278, Robinson powered to the title with a sensational back nine.
He birdied six of the eight holes between the tenth and the 17th to build himself an unassailable lead and he could even afford the luxury of a bogey five at the 382 yard 18th and still pick up the title.
Wade carded a flawless 67, which included birdies at the 17th and 18th holes, to share second with Willey on seven under par 277, the Englishman’s final round 70 containing four birdies and three bogeys.