Argentina’s Joaquin Estevez produced a grandstand finish to win the Abierto International Copa Antioquia in Colombia, birdieing the last four holes of regulation play before winning a play-off with a yet another birdie.
His five birdie finish at Club Campestre was too much for Frenchman Charles Russo, who battled against a back nine wobble by birdieing the 72nd hole to draw level with Estevez on ten under par 274. But there was no stopping the charging 26 year old Argentine as he carried his momentum into extra holes, draining a 12ft putt for victory.
Starting the final day at six under and four shots off the lead, Estevez made no impression on the front nine and in fact fell further behind with a bogey on the sixth. But a birdie on the 12th set up the sensational finish as he tore home with four straight birdies for a back nine of just 30 strokes for a closing four under par 67.
“I never dreamed of a finish like this, not even in my wildest dream!” said Estévez, who plans to compete in Europe now.
Russo looked to be heading towards the title when he picked up four birdies on the front nine but his challenge faltered with three dropped shots in four holes from the 11th until he rallied with a birdie three on the last for a 69 to match Estevez at ten under.
The Frenchman narrowly missed out on a European Tour card last season when he finished just outside the top 20 in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 24th place and his hopes of an early season victory were dashed at the first play-off hole.
Victory in the event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas earned Estevez €26,274 and lifted him straight to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings. England’s Matt Ford drops to second while Russo moves into third place after picking up the runners-up cheque of €18,063.
Until the last hole exploits of Estevez and Russo, it looked like a title was going to remain on home soil with another Vanegas victory when, following David Venegas’ win last year, fellow Colombian Diego Vanegas set the target of nine under par with a fine 67.
Will Wilcox of America had been the man to catch after three rounds but his hopes of victory ended with three bogeys on the back nine as he fell into a tie for fourth with Germany’s Nicolas Meitinger on eight under par, Wilcox carding a 73 to Meitinger’s 71.