Englishman Lee Slattery completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory in the Telenet Trophy for his first victory in six years.
The 31 year old closed with a round of four under par 67 to reach 21 under for the tournament, four shots in front of French youngster Edouard Dubois, who could not quite match his third-round exploits with a 69 on the final day. Dubois set a new course record with a nine under par 63 the day before to move to within two shots of Slattery, but mustered only three birdies in wet and windy conditions at Rinkven Golf Club on the outskirts of Antwertp, Belgium.
Another Frenchman, Alex Kaleka, finished third on 14 under and Swede Niklas Lemke shot up to grab a share of fourth place with a seven under par 65 which included an eagle and six birdies. Lemke was alongside Mark Tullo at 12 under, while Simon Wakefield, who carded rounds of 64 and 65 on days two and three, was 11 under with Julio Zapata.
Slattery began the final day in exquisite fashion by birdieing the first three holes to move into a five shot lead. That lead was cut down to two by the seventh hole, however, when Dubois posted consecutive birdies and Slattery dropped a shot at the par five seventh, but the Englishman pulled away with back to back birdies around the turn.
He increased the lead with another birdie at the 16th, ensuring a convincing victory - the equal largest winning margin of the season and the lowest winning total in relation to par.
“This means so much,” said Slattery, who won €24,000. “I’ve worked so hard over the last three months with my coach, putting in the hours. And it’s obviously paid off.
“I feel great. To go out this week and win wire to wire... I led after every round and today I felt so comfortable out there. I think when you’re swinging the club well it makes it a lot easier. Edouard was pushing me all the way and it did get quite tight but the turning point was when I birdied the tenth.
“I started so well with three birdies but I had a stupid bogey at the seventh which I eagled yesterday. After that it was pretty flawless. I can’t remember missing any greens and it felt great.”
The last time Slattery won a tournament was in the 2004 Telia Grand Prix in 2004, the same year he finished top of the Challenge Tour Rankings.
“That tournament I think I was eight shots behind going into the last day and shot level par and won the tournament," he said. "It was so windy and I can remember the field just coming back towards me as the day went on, so I almost put that down as a lucky win. I had a lot of seconds that year and couldn’t quite get over the line so it means so much to win so convincingly here.”
Slattery is the fourth English champion on the Challenge Tour this season and the second wire-to-wire winner following Floris de Vries at the Mugello Tuscany Open last week.