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Sunday, 05 September 2010
Romain Wattel  (EuropeanTour)
Romain Wattel (EuropeanTour)

Teenager Romain Wattel became the second amateur to win on the European Challenge Tour this season after a nerveless final round 67 in the ALLIANZ Europen de Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau.

The Frenchman, who is the World Amateur Number Four, finished on 17 under par, three strokes clear of American Ryan Blaum, Italian Lorenzo Gagli, Englishman Steve Tiley and Spaniard Alvaro Velasco, after a hugely impressive display at Golf de la Wantzenau.

Starting the day four shots behind overnight leader Gagli, 19 year old Wattel pounced when the Italian carded two double bogeys and two bogeys on the front nine.

Cheered on by the sizeable home support, Wattel was flawless to the turn, picking up a shot on the second before firing three consecutive birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes.

His first mistake of the day came with on the 12th hole, which allowed Velasco to lead briefly, but he responded magnificently to that mistake, posting another hat-trick of birdies from the 13th to pull clear of the field.

He then showed maturity beyond his tender years to close out the victory, despite bogeying the last hole, to become only the fifth amateur to win on the Challenge Tour, just three weeks after Danish amateur Andreas Hartø won the ECCO Tour Championship.

“I’m delighted- this feels amazing and so exciting,” said Wattel. “It is a great moment for me. It is the biggest tournament I’ve won. I’m almost dreaming.

“This morning I was just focused on making a good start.  That was important as I was four shots behind so I had to recover those quite quickly and that’s what I did.

“I played really solidly and missed only a couple of shots today.  I putted really well and that gave me so much confidence.

“It was special to win in France. The public were fantastic this week and really got behind me and encouraged me.”

Wattel is the first French winner of the season and the first Frenchman to win on home soil since Alexandre Kaleka at the 2009 ALLIANZ EurOpen de Lyon.

Despite securing a Challenge Tour exemption, he intends to stick by his decision not to turn professional until after representing his country in the Eisenhower Trophy.

“I don’t think I’ll change my plans despite the win,” he said. “I’ll play the few tournaments I have to play in the rest of the season and I’ll talk to my coach and see what the best thing for next year is and whether to go to Qualifying School.

“Hopefully this will be a big victory in my career and I can go on to achieve more.”

Joint runner –up Velasco, who won the Fred Olsen Challenge de España earlier this year, was attempting to become only the second multiple winner of the Challenge Tour season after Martin Wiegeles’ two victories in the Karnten Golf Open by Markus Brief Foundation and SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC.

He had to settle for a share of second place after a costly double bogey on the 13th hole effectively ended his challenge and the 29 year old signed for a round of. However he will be consoled by his move from 12th to sixth in the Challenge Tour Rankings.

Blaum, who carded a 68, will also be buoyed by his performance after he continues his comeback to the game following more than six months out with glandular fever.  Gagli eventually signed for a round of 74 to join the tie for second, while Tiley carded a 68.

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