Antti Ahokas (Getty Images)
Finland’s Antti Ahokas claimed his second win of the season after a dramatic climax to the ECCO Tour Championship saw him hole a four foot putt when his hopes of victory had appeared dead and buried with two holes to play.
Dutchman Wil Besseling had a two stroke lead going into the 18th but four putted for a double bogey six to leave overnight leader Ahokas to battle it out with compatriot Roope Kakko for the title in the final group.
Kakko then missed a crucial five foot par putt while Ahokas, who had birdied the 17th to drag himself back into the contest, held his nerve to sink the winning putt and land the €28,800 first prize.
Ahokas had earlier looked to be cruising towards victory when he opened up a two shot lead with birdies on the second and third holes and even maintained the lead despite a double bogey on the seventh. But the left hander endured a nervy back nine with bogeys on the 11th and 13th before eventually steadying himself with that vital birdie on the 17th to card a two under par 70 and finish on a 17 under par total of 271.
Besseling and Kakko had to settle for a share of second place one shot behind Ahokas on 16 under par, alongside Norway’s Eirik Tage Johansen and another Dutchman, Taco Remkes, who shot fine rounds of 64 and 66 respectively to surge up the field at Kokkedal Golf Club in Copenhagen.
Ahokas admitted he felt for both Besseling and Kakko but savoured in his own victory which lifts him from 27th to sixth on the European Challenge Tour Rankings and increases his chances of finishing in the all important top 20 which guarantees European Tour playing rights.
He said: “When me and Roope went to the last we said this is big for the Finnish people and this is what golf is all about so let’s enjoy it. I feel very bad for Roope but that’s the way it goes. I really feel terrible for him.
“This was my personal record score, I’ve not shot 17 under par before. I have to say I don’t feel comfortable leading on the final day but I’ve dealt with it twice now so it has given me confidence.”
Ahokas’s win was his second following victory at The 103 Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot in Argentina in April and followed a mid season slump where he missed five consecutive cuts.
“It was different to the first one as I knew that every guy here was in contention and I didn’t make enough birdies and I knew the field was going well. I didn’t birdie the 15th and had to really gather myself and got a lucky bounce on the 17th. I saw that Besseling was two ahead at that point and I feel very sorry for him for what happened on the last.
“I almost started to cry on the last hole,” he added. “I ran through the crowd as I wanted to make sure the score was right. It is really big for me.
“It was a big relief. I played poor at the start of the summer and missed the cut by one stroke five times in a row but this puts me in a great position for the rest of the season.”