Mark Tullo produced a magnificent final round of six under par 66 to storm through the field and secure his second Challenge Tour win of the season at the Egyptian Open presented by SODIC.
The Chilean was too hot to handle at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club as he rampaged up the leaderboard to overtake Scotland’s George Murray and Dutchman Floris de Vries and secure the first prize of €28,612 that guarantees his place on The 2011 European Tour International Schedule.
Tullo’s 13 under par win had echoes of the Chilean’s victory in the Rolex trophy earlier in the season as he won again overhauled a final day four stroke deficit to take the tile.
The 32 year old moved from tenth to seventh on the Challenge Tour Rankings after his outstanding display that included an eagle and six birdies in Cairo.
“This is an amazing day for me – I won the Rolex Trophy earlier in the year when I was four behind going into the final round,” said Tullo.
“I don’t know how I do it or why it happens but it feels great. Winning once is amazing but to do it twice in the year shows your consistency and that you are doing a really good job.
“Winning the second time, at this stage of the season, is so important for me – it has secured my card for The European Tour for next season and that is like a dream for me. Next week I can be so much more relaxed at the Grand Final, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. It’s amazing.
“Shooting 66 to win is pretty special as well. I played great today – controlled the ball well and saw every shot that I hit.”
On a truly dramatic day at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club, Tullo had to endure an agonising wait after signing his scorecard to see if his 66 was enough to take the title. In the clubhouse at 13 under par, Tullo watched the live scoring on europeantour.com and saw Murray and de Vries birdie the par five 17th to get within one stroke of the target.
“I didn’t realise that I had a chance to win until I was signing my scorecard. I never look at the leaderboards on the golf course because it can really affect you with tension so I genuinely didn’t know what was going on until I finished and then I had a pretty nervous ten minutes.
“I was two ahead with George and Floris playing the 17th, then I heard they had both birdied the 17th and was thinking that at least one of them would make birdie on the last but thankfully for me they both made par and I get to take home this trophy. It’s a great thing to win twice and I can go to the Grand Final in a very relaxed mood and try to win again and win the Challenge Tour for the season.”
Murray and de Vries took considerable consolation from their prize of €16,094 that respectively propelled them to eighth and third on the Challenge Tour Rankings and cemented their place on The 2011 European Tour.
With the penultimate event of season over, the stage is now set for the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final where the top 45 players of the season do battle for a €250,000 prize fund.
Every player in the field for next week’s finale has an opportunity to win a card and every player in the field has a separate agenda, form first placed Alvaro Velasco of Spain, to 45th Ranked Adam Gee of England.
While the Challenge Tour players look to win a place on The European Tour, World Number Nine Rory McIlroy left Egypt safe in the knowledge that his swing is coming back to the standard that has seen him become one of the best players on the world.
McIlroy finished the tournament with his lowest score of the week, a four under par 68. That final round effort, for a six under aggregate of 212, saw the Northern Irishman finish the week in a tie for 12th position, seven shots behind the Tullo of Chile.
Four under was the worst possible score McIlroy could have compiled around the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club as his swing-changing labours bore fruit and led to the kind of prodigious display that has taken the 21 year old to the World Number Nine spot.
“That was the lowest of the week and it could have been a lot better as well,” confirmed McIlroy. “I played really nicely today and carried it on from yesterday and hit some really nice shots and it was definitely the best that I played all week.
“I missed four short ones for birdie in a row, all inside eight feet, on the back nine so it could have been very, very good but that’s the way it goes.
“It’s encouraging moving forward and for the rest of the season. There was a massive difference between how I hit the ball on Wednesday in the first round and how I hit it today so that’s really good.
“Wednesday was really bad – it was the worst that I have ever hit it as a professional, put it that way. Thursday was a bit better and then Friday was good and I carried that into the final round today.
“I had just got into a bad habit so the change was something that I needed to do. I still have a bit of work today next week at home with my coach but I am on the right track so pleased about that.”
McIlroy was hugely impressed by the set-up in Egypt – as well as the standard of play on the Challenge Tour – and, despite his performance on the golf course at the beginning of the week, thoroughly enjoyed his time in the land of the Pyramids.
“Overall this week has been really good, I have really enjoyed the trip to Egypt,” he said. “The golf course was nice and in fantastic condition and the hotel resort was excellent.
“It was cool to see the Pyramids even though it was a short trip but I was the first guy to ever hit balls at the Pyramids so that was brilliant. It has been a great week – hopefully I’ll be able to come back one day if it becomes a European Tour event.”
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