Englishman Sam Walker won the Côtes d’Armor Open Bretagne by one shot after carding a one under par 69 in a dramatic final round.
On a day of high scoring at Golf Blue Green Pléneuf Val-André in windy conditions, Walker thought he had blown his chance when he bogeyed the last to slip back to level with Victor Riu at eight under. However, the Frenchman, in the group behind, also bogeyed the 18th to leave Walker as the outright leader.
Walker then had a nervous wait to see whether Raymond Russell, the third round leader, could muster a birdie at the 18th to force a play-off, but he was finally able to celebrate victory when Russell missed a 20ft putt and signed for a one over par 71.
Scotsman Russell finished tied second alongside Riu, with Andrew Willey, who impressed with a five under par 65 on day three but could not reproduce that form in a final round 70, in fourth.
Walker, who had birdies at the seventh, 11th and 12th holes, said: “I played well today in tricky conditions. I haven’t been putting well for a while but for some reason my putter came out today and everything went in until the 18th. I hit my tee shot into a bush and chipped out into a bunker. I hit a great bunker shot and made a good putt but it just didn’t drop.”
It was 32 year old’s second Challenge Tour victory following his triumph in the 2006 Scottish Challenge.
“I’m really happy with the way I played all week,” he added. “This is a similar course to the one where I won in Scotland and I’ve felt very comfortable on it. You don’t need to hit the ball very far but just keep it in play, and that’s exactly what I’ve done today.
“I was trying not to watch when Victor was coming up the 18th but I snuck a look at where he was hitting his third shot, on the left of the green, and then I just walked away. My phone was ringing like mad. I’m just really pleased with where I am at the moment because of the situation I’ve been in the last year and a half. I’ve got myself out of trouble.
“I’ll have to reassess my goals for the season now. I’m supposed to be playing in Mallorca next week but after that if I play every Challenge Tour event I won’t have a break until St Omer and I’m going to be very tired. So I need to assess whether I can afford not to play.”
Riu blamed nerves for not managing a par at the last which would have taken him into a play-off. “I’m very disappointed,” he said. “There was too much pressure on the last hole when I saw the leaderboard. I hit my tee shot perfectly but then I saw the scores and hit my second shot very badly.”
Russell was also left to rue a missed opportunity. “I’m disappointed because I had a chance,” he said. “I played the front nine poorly and although I got it back together after the turn I left chances out there at the 15th and 16th and then again at the 18th.”
Steve Lewton led midway through the final round after reaching the turn in three under par, but he imploded on the back nine with bogeys at the 11th and 18th and double bogeys at the 14th and 17th. Tom Whitehouse, who was one shot off the lead heading into the last round, had two double bogeys on the front nine and signed for a 76 which left him in a tie for ninth at one over.
The win moves Walker from 65th to fifth in the Challenge Tour Rankings, and he is the third consecutive English winner in Challenge Tour events following Robert Dinwiddie in the Kenya Open and Charlie Ford in the Turkish Airlines Challenge hosted by Carya Golf Club.