Andrew Butterfield (Getty Images)
After 13 years of trying, England’s Andrew Butterfield finally captured his maiden Challenge Tour title on a nerve-jangling final day at The Princess.
Butterfield has finished runner-up three times in a Challenge Tour career which began back in 1996, but a 13 under par aggregate total was just enough to hold off late charges by his compatriot Richard McEvoy and Spaniard Carlos Rodiles.
For much of the day at Båstad GK in Båstad, Sweden, Butterfield looked like frittering away the six-stroke lead he had held overnight.
Indeed, after a double bogey at the 13th hole was followed by birdies at the 14th for his three closest rivals, the 36 year old briefly relinquished the lead for the first time since smashing the course record on the opening day.
But Butterfield hit back with a birdie at the 16th hole, and when Germany’s Christophe Günther – who had climbed to 13 under par – ran up successive bogeys, the Englishman knew a par at the last would hand him the title.
As he had done all day, however, Butterfield made life difficult for himself by missing the green. But a precise chip and a nerveless par putt from eight feet secured a Rolex watch and the €48,000 winner’s cheque, which propelled him to the top of the Rankings and virtually guaranteed him a European Tour card for next season.
Butterfield said: “I can’t really describe how it finally feels to win. It’s a relief more than anything else, because I was probably never going to get a better chance of winning after being six shots clear going into the last day. But after my double bogey at the 13th, I thought I might’ve blown it. All I could do was just keep doing what I’d been doing for the first three days, and throughout my career – give it my best shot. I started making some putts, and in the end I just hung on. The putt on the last felt like 20 feet rather than eight, but it went in and I got the job down.
“This dramatically changes my season, because I’ve now won over €80,000, so a card of some sort is already guaranteed for next year. That means I can relax a bit more now and enjoy the season, because there’s a bit less pressure on me. The next step is obviously to win again – although I don’t want to get greedy! It’s taken a long time for my first win, but hopefully I won’t have to wait as long again to get the next one on the board.”
Rodiles and McEvoy finished in a tie for second place on 12 under par after both men closed with rounds of 66, whilst Günther was a further shot back in fourth place after a 68.