Benjamin Hebert banished the disappointment of five successive missed cuts to claim his debut Challenge Tour title in supremely testing conditions at the Credit Suisse Challenge.
The Frenchman arrived in Switzerland on the back of a wretched run of form, but after using the last fortnight to correct some technical issues in his swing on the practice range back home in Brive, he bounced back to form in spectacular style with a hugely impressive victory at Golf Sempachersee near Lucerne, Switzerland.
Despite driving rain, Hebert carded a superb level par round of 71 to finish on 12 under par and take the title by four strokes from in-form Englishman Jamie Moul, one of only five players to break par all day.
His winner’s cheque for €24,000 moved Hebert up to 21st place in the Challenge Tour Rankings and within sight of a return to The European Tour, having lost his playing privileges last season.
Hebert, who becomes the third Frenchman after Edouard Dubois and Anthony Snobeck to win on the Challenge Tour this year, said: “It’s a great feeling to win my first Challenge Tour event. It was very tough in the rain today, because it never stopped all day. But I kept my focused and played really well, especially around the greens. I’ve worked really hard on my short game recently, and it paid off for me today because I made some great up-and-downs. Nobody was going to shoot really low scores today because of the conditions, so I knew if I just kept my concentration, I’d probably win.
“In some ways, the rain might’ve helped me a little bit, as it concentrated my mind and it meant I didn’t really feel any nerves, because I was too busy trying to stay out of the rain and keep my clubs dry to think about anything else. Pars today were a good score and even though I made three bogeys they didn’t cost me in the end.
“The aim now is to climb into the top 20 of the Rankings and stay there, which didn’t look possible after I missed my fifth straight cut in Scotland three weeks ago. Missing the cut in Madeira and St Omer was really disappointing because they’re such big tournaments, but after winning here my season now looks much brighter.”
In stark contrast to Hebert, Moul arrived at the €150,000 event buoyed by his first Challenge Tour victory at last week’s Acaya Open, and the former World Amateur Number One continued his hot streak with a runner-up finish courtesy of a closing round of 70 for an eight under par aggregate total.
Moul, who climbs five places to fourth in the Challenge Tour Rankings, will now look to extend his run of fine results at next week’s English Challenge, which is being played at his home club in Essex.
He said: “I played very nicely today, even if it was a real grind at times. The conditions were pretty brutal, so a round of 70 was good going in the circumstances. I knew that if I could shoot anything below par I’d probably make ground up on the guys above me, and that’s how it worked out. Now I’m going to dry out and start getting ready for next week. After finishing first and second in my last two events, I’d probably take third next week – although I’d obviously love to win it!”
Austrian Florian Praegant finished in third place on seven under par after carding a joint best-of-the-day round of 69.