Former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker made history repeat itself when he won the Credit Suisse Challenge for the second time, and now heads for Open Qualifying in a final bid to secure a place for Turnberry.
Two years ago at Wylihof Golf Club in Luterbach, Switzerland, Baker won the title with a final round of 67, and the same score again carried the 41 year old Englishman to a one stroke victory over Austrian Florian Praegant. Baker becomes the first player to win the event twice and the first player over the age of 40 to win on the Challenge Tour since he himself won on his 40th birthday in 2007.
It was a close run battle with Praegant challenging all the way but Baker managed to keep his nose in front with birdies on the 15th and 17th before holing a crucial 12 foot par putt on the last to deny his playing partner.
Baker’s winning total of 18 under par 274 earned him €22,400 (£18,985) and lifted him from 31st to tenth on the Challenge Tour Rankings.
“It was a tough day and Florian was very strong, especially on the back nine,” said Baker, who played in The 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry. “But I hung in there and it came right down to the last shot.”
Baker, a three-time winner on The European Tour, flies straight to Scotland and to Glasgow - Gailes Links, where he will attempt to win one of the 12 spots available through Local Final Qualifying for a place in the 138th Open Championship at Turnberry.
“I was quite tired coming into the week as this was my fourth week in a row and I just decided to put everything into the week,” he said. “This course seems to suit me. I played fantastic for the first two days but couldn’t hole a putt and but then over the weekend, while the game wasn’t so good, the putts dropped. It’s a strange game sometimes.
“It might not be the best preparation for Open Qualifying but it does mean I go there with a bit of confidence and my record in Qualifying is not bad. So hopefully I will tee up next in The Open.”
Baker’s victory two years ago proved the springboard to a return to The European Tour as he went on to claim a second title and finish 12th in the Rankings. Two years on the goal is exactly the same, to have another crack at the big time and secure his 24th year on Tour.
An eagle three on the fourth and birdie on the seventh set Baker on his way but Praegant hit back with birdies at the tenth, 12th and 13th. Both players birdie the 14th before Baker pulled clear with his birdies on the 15th and 17th and ultimately Praegant’s five foot birdie putt on the last for a final round of 67 and 17 under par total of 275 was not quite enough.
Italy’s Edoardo Molinari also challenged as he too shot a closing 67 to finish in third place, one shot further back on 16 under par 276.