To notch five successive birdies at any stage is impressive enough, but to achieve the feat when it is needed most – at the sharp end of the final round to capture your maiden Challenge Tour title – is what dreams are made of.
The man living that dream is Argentina’s Joaquín Estévez, who at last week’s Abierto Internacional Copa Antioquia closed with four birdies in regulation play, before capping a five-star display with yet another gain on the first hole of the play-off to edge out runner-up Charles-Edouard Russo of France.
Estévez’s steady, rather than spectacular, form on the Tour de las Americas (TLA), where his best performance prior to his victory was a tie for third place at last year’s 84th Abierto de Chile, gave little indication that he would seize the day on his tenth Challenge Tour appearance.
But the 26 year old, who turned professional three years ago, proved he was the man for the big occasion by following his compatriots Tano Goya, Daniel Vancsik and Alan Wagner into the winner’s enclosure in an event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and the TLA.
Estévez, who climbed to 478th on the Official World Golf Ranking on the back of his startling success, will now play a full season on the Challenge Tour in a bid to follow in the spikemarks of Goya, Vancsik and a host of current European Tour Members who have made the journey from TLA champions to Challenge Tour graduates.
He said: “It’s a huge, huge win for me. I’m extremely happy about it, not just for me but also for all the people who have supported me. I’m very grateful to the TLA and also to the European Challenge Tour for coming here to South America in order to provide us with a huge opportunity. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of it. I didn’t dream of anything like this when I teed up at the start of the week, which that makes the victory taste even better.
“It was truly an unbelievable finish. The 15th hole was very difficult, but I hit two great shots and made a three-footer for birdie. Then I birdied the 16th, sank a 20-footer at the par-three 17th and added another birdie on the 18th as well to force the play-off.
“I wasn’t nervous in the play-off because I knew I was playing well, but I still pulled my drive to the right and it landed on the tenth tee. But luckily I still had a shot to the green, so I just tried to hit the best shot I could – and it worked out really well for me.
“When I holed the birdie putt a lot of people crossed my mind, such as my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my manager and also my fitness coach and psychologist. There are a lot of people who have supported me, and I want to thank all of them. Obviously I will have to keep working hard in order to achieve more of my goals, but I’m now on the right path.”