England’s Gary Lockerbie secured an immediate return to The European Tour with his first victory as a professional at the Kazakhstan Open, the most lucrative regular event on the Challenge Tour Schedule.
After a closing round of 70 at Nurtau Golf Club in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for a 15 under par aggregate total, Lockerbie collected a €68,800 winner’s cheque which propelled him to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings. The 25 year old is thus assured a place on The 2009 European Tour Schedule, having only lost his playing privileges last year.
With the luxury of a three shot cushion coming down the last, Lockerbie could even afford a final hole bogey which did little to dampen his delight.
He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. It was a bit greedy of me to win the biggest cheque of the year, but I’m certainly not complaining! I played well in China last week and finished second, so I’ve really peaked at the right time. Obviously I was desperate to win here this week, but I tried not to think about it too much today. I was pretty nervous on the first tee this morning, but playing with my mate Steven O’Hara helped me to relax.
“It was a great feeling to come down the last knowing even a double bogey would be enough to take the title. The goal was always to get my card back for The European Tour, and now I’ve achieved that I’d love to go there as the Number One graduate. It would be some achievement, because two or three weeks ago I was worrying about whether I would make it into the top 20. Now I’ve gone to first in the Rankings, I’d love to stay there. That’s the next target – but first I’m going to enjoy the moment.”
Lockerbie’s compatriot Stuart Davis finished two shots back in second after compiling a stunning round of 67 which featured six birdies on the back nine.
Italian Alessandro Tadini matched Davis’ round of 67 to finish third on 12 under par alongside O’Hara, who shot a 72. In a share of fifth on ten under par were the English duo of Chris Gane and David Horsey, and Brazil’s Alexandre Rocha.