Julien Quesne gave himself the perfect birthday present by winning the Trophée du Golf de Genève for his first European Challenge Tour title.
The Frenchman, who turned 29 today, shot a stunning six under par 66 in the final round to finish a shot clear of Challenge Tour Rankings leader Edoardo Molinari, who had a one shot lead at the start of the day but whose 68 ultimately proved insufficient.
The Italian birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th to give Quesne a scare, but needing another birdie at the 18th to force a play-off, he only managed a par.
Englishman Peter Baker, who shot 67 today, shared third place with Julien Guerrier at 17 under, while three players – Gary Boyd, Alan Wagner and James Morrison – were two more shots further back.
Quesne, whose previous best performance on the Challenge Tour was runner-up at last year’s Banque Populaire Moroccan Classic, where he also finished third this season, was one shot off the course record on the first day when he posted a 64 which included nine birdies.
He did not quite match that level in the second two rounds, but a 69 and a 71 kept him in contention and the withdrawal through injury of second round leader Robert Coles three holes into his third round blew the race wide open.
Quesne seized the initiative today to become the fifth consecutive first time winner on the Challenge Tour and said he was glad to finally have a victory to his name.
“I’m so happy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this victory since the beginning of the season. I have been playing very well all year but I’ve had to be very patient. I’ve had a few chances before to win before but haven’t done it so this is great for me and on my birthday too which makes it even more special.
“The four straight birdies really got me going. I just made a bogey so I was thinking about my score because I always like to be under par early. At the long par three (seventh) I hit a four iron to within a metre and then at the par five next hole I hit my third shot very close and tapped in.
“At the ninth I made a putt from 15 metres and at the tenth I went very close again with my approach shot. It was nerve-racking knowing Edoardo could force a play-off with a birdie at the last but I also knew it is maybe the hardest hole on the course.”
Quesne was one shot off Molinari’s lead at the start of the final round but said any pressure on him worked in his favour.
He added: “I did feel a little bit of pressure this morning but I like that. For me, pressure is a good thing and often makes me raise my game a little.”
Although Molinari did not end up with the trophy in Switzerland, his runner-up finish cemented his place at the top of the Rankings and capped a good weekend for his family, as brother Francesco made the cut on his debut in the US PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.