Italian Andrea Pavan claimed his first professional title in the Norwegian Challenge after edging out Austrian Florian Praegant in a play-off.
The 22 year old from Rome made a birdie at the third extra hole to win, having carded a two under par 70 in the final round to reach nine under for the tournament alongside Praegant, who signed for a 69.
The Austrian holed an excellent putt from off the green for birdie at the first play-off hole, and Pavan followed suit from close range. Nothing could separate the pair at the second extra hole as they both tapped in for par, but at the third Pavan went close with his approach and Praegant could only make bogey.
Pavan only turned professional earlier this year and at the start of the season was relying on sponsors’ invitations, but his impressive form and flashes of brilliance took him to 31st in the Rankings prior to this week, and now he has risen to seventh.
In addition to the cheque for €28,000, Pavan was glad to lay to rest the demons which prevented him winning earlier in the season – he was second in the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda despite leading by five shots heading into the final round, and in the Credit Suisse Challenge he led at the halfway stage only to shoot 75 and 86 at the weekend to finish 70th.
“It feels fantastic to have won,” he said. “Especially after what happened in Austria and Switzerland, I proved I can finish it off. My coach this week has been very helpful. It has not been a week for playing really well, but we found a way to win.
“I holed some crucial putts today, especially on the 18th to make par and get in the play-off. Both days this weekend I’ve played well on the back nine. And to make two birdies in the play-off was great.
“I was more nervous during the round than in the play-off. Once I was in the play-off I knew the worse I could finish was second.
“My goal was always to finish in the top 20 of the Rankings but now it is much closer to happening. There are still two very big weeks coming up, in Kazakhstan and Russia, so I’m taking next week off to prepare. Even though I won, there is still plenty of improvement to be made.”
It could have been a fairytale week for Praegant, who with Roland Steiner clinched a spot in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup via the European Qualifier last Sunday, but he was not too disappointed.
“I played really well and second place is a good performance,” said Praegant. “I was third in my last Challenge Tour event (the Credit Suisse Challenge), then qualified for the World Cup and now this, so it has been a great few weeks.
“I holed some great putts today and I’m playing well so there are plenty of positives to take away.”
Scots Chris Doak and Andrew McArthur shared third place – the former impressing with a four under par 68 – while Simon Thornton of Ireland was fifth.
Marius Thorp was the highest placed Norwegian at five under, while 16 year old amateur Kristoffer Ventura, who played in last year’s Junior Ryder Cup, finished four under for a share of 16th place.