Frenchman Edouard Dubois produced a stunning performance to win the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda, carding a nine under par 63 in the final round to overturn a five shot deficit behind overnight leader Andrea Pavan.
The Italian had led from the start after opening rounds of 63 and 64 gave him a seven shot halfway lead. That advantage was cut to five after he posted a 70 on day three in response to Dubois’ sparkling 65, and it was reduced to nothing by midway through the final round as he struggled to a level par 72.
Pavan had to settle for second, four shots behind Dubois at 19 under, while Englishman Andrew Johnston’s 66 gave him a share of third place at 16 under alongside compatriot Chris Paisley and Swede Bjorn Åkesson, who both carded 70.
It was on the front nine that Dubois again laid the foundations for a sublime score at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim. Yesterday he was six under at the turn; today he was five under, and he picked up more shots at the tenth, 14th, 16th and 17th. The 16th was the turning point as Pavan’s bogey put his rival two shots ahead, and the 18th was the final nail in the coffin as the Italian hit his second shot in the lake en route to a double bogey.
“It’s amazing,” said Dubois, who earns a cheque for €25,600 and rises from 68th to seventh in the Challenge Tour Rankings. “I played like I was in a dream. I was six shots behind Andrea after two holes today but then I got on a roll and the birdies kept coming. It felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong.
“I holed a very long putt on the seventh – maybe 20 metres – and it was around the turn that I could feel something happening, I thought maybe I could win. I had another good birdie on the tenth to go into the lead and I was never behind after that.
“I was a little bit nervous on the 18th but not so much before that. That surprised me a little bit – I just felt so good. It’s my first Challenge Tour win and it feels so brilliant. It’s great for my place in the Rankings, for my confidence, everything.”
Pavan rued his bad luck in the final round, but admitted he could take plenty of positives from the week despite not winning.
“I started off okay but made a three-putt on the fourth which was annoying,” said the 22 year old from Rome. “I couldn’t get my wedges really close and the putts weren’t dropping. I made two good up-and-downs on the ninth and tenth and they were crucial.
“Meanwhile Edouard was playing unbelievable golf so I knew I had to make something happen. I knew I had to put some pressure on him. On the par five 14th I hit it really close and made the putt for birdie, but then he made a long putt for birdie too.
“On the 16th I got a bad break – the ball was stuck on the lip of the bunker on a down slope. I was thinking par at worst but didn’t hit it great and then had a tough shot from the rough. On the 17th I made a good putt for birdie from about five metres and I’m thinking it’s down to one shot going down the 18th, but then he holes another long putt to make four too. What can you do?
“On the 18th I knew he wasn’t going to make bogey so I tried to go right at the pin but it ended up going in the lake. The first two days were great; perhaps the weekend I should have done better. I didn’t feel like my game was at its best and I still shot 19 under so I can’t be too disappointed.”
Dubois’ 23 under par 265 is comfortably the lowest total score of the season, beating the previous best set by Nicolas Meitinger and Maximilian Keiffer at the Allianz Challenge de France by eight shots.