Ricardo Santos came from behind to claim his first Challenge Tour title with a sparkling six under par 66 in the final round of The Princess by Schüco at the PGA of Sweden National.
The Portuguese overhauled overnight leader Andreas Hartø, who had a 73, with three birdies on the front nine – including the first two holes – and four more on the way back which took him to 16 under par.
He finished three shots ahead of Englishman Daniel Brooks, who signed for a 68, while Frenchman Charles-Edouard Russo impressed with a 65 to finish third. Hartø ultimately had to settle for a share of fourth at 11 under.
As the last groups reached the turn it looked to be anyone’s title for the taking, but Santos mustered four consecutive birdies from the 13th to surge ahead.
“It is just like a dream,” said the 28 year old from Faro. “I’m feeling so great. I’m in a very good position now to get my European Tour card through the Challenge Tour Rankings.
“All day I have been feeling so many emotions, but now I can relax and enjoy it and celebrate with my friends and family. I was a little nervous at the start and again after 15 holes, because I knew the last three holes are real danger holes.
“But the birdies helped a lot and after that point I knew the title was mine unless I did something silly. The putts on the 13th and 14th were gimmes – the 13th almost an eagle - and on 15th and 16th they were good putts, probably six and eight metres.”
Santos, who received a €32,000 winner’s cheque from Henrik Stenson, who founded the tournament, added: “I’ve been playing well for a long time so I feel like this win has been coming a while.”
Hartø blazed to the top of the leaderboard with a third round 63, but could not repeat that form on the last day.
“It’s okay, I’m not too disappointed,” said 22 year old, who won twice on the Challenge Tour last season – the first time as an amateur. “I came into this week only to enjoy it and I’ve had some good rounds.
“I just didn’t make anything today – my putter was not as hot as yesterday. It’s hard to follow up a round like yesterday. Ricardo did extremely well. He deserves this win, no doubt about it.”
Brooks birdied the 18th to claim the runner-up spot on his own and was thrilled to record his best Challenge Tour performance to date.
He said: “I’m over the moon with second place. It’s the second time I’ve got myself in contention and both times I’ve played very solid. I didn’t have any bogeys today, which was pleasing.
“I was keeping an eye on the leaderboard all the way round, and I wasn’t going anywhere because I wasn’t making any bogeys. Someone else has gone one better and won it but I’m happy with the way I handled it.”
Russo said: “This has been a very good week for me because I have started putting well. I’ve been playing very well for a month or so but putting very badly. I’m glad the extra practice is starting to pay off.
“I tried not to think about winning, as I knew Ricardo was ahead. I just concentrated on my shots and focused on finishing with as low a score as possible.”
Stenson, winner of the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2000, created The Princess in 2009, naming it after his daughter, Lisa. The European Tour star wanted to ensure there remained a Challenge Tour event in Sweden, giving up and coming players the chances he had.