Benjamin Hebert is on the brink of completing a hat-trick of Challenge Tour victories this season, but faces a nervous wait to find out if he is the champion because of a change to the draw in the final round of the Rolex Trophy.
Yesterday’s third round was cut short due to thunderstorms, leaving 16 groups to return this morning. As a result, the fourth round had to be played with exactly the same draw as the third round in order to finish on time, so Hebert was in the clubhouse with a five under par 67 some five hours before the end of play, having teed off from the tenth at 8.10am.
Englishman Sam Hutsby, teeing off at 8.30am, had a one shot lead at the start of the final round, and extended that to two strokes at one stage, but his bid to stay level with Hebert at 19 under par – or even go one better - unravelled at the seventh – his 16th – with a bogey, which was followed by a triple bogey eight at the eighth for a level par 72.
That left Jorge Campillo the only other threat from the morning groups, but having reached 18 under par after 15 holes he was unable to birdie any of the last three to match Hebert’s effort.
Hebert won back-to-back titles in the Credit Suisse Challenge and the English Challenge earlier this summer, and if he makes it three later today he will automatically gain a European Tour card for the rest of this season and 2012.
“I am very happy because I had a great finish,” said the 24 year old. “I putted brilliantly on the back nine. I holed a putt from 15 metres on the sixth, then one from five metres down the hill on the eighth for par as I’d hit my second shot in the water with a three wood. So that was crucial.
“And on the ninth I hit it very close with my approach and had an easy birdie putt. It was not easy out there with all the water on the course. Now we will wait and see what happens. I’m not nervous because I’ve done all I can.
“Sam and Jorge came close, but now someone will have to shoot very low this afternoon to get to 19 under, which will be very difficult as it’s tough out there.”
Florian Praegant needs to card a 65 to reach 19 under, while Tommy Fleetwood needs a 64.
If Campillo finishes second, it will be the third time he has come runner-up this year. He said: “I knew I had to birdie the last to go level with Benjamin, but I was in the rough for my second shot and it was 180 yards to the flag and a really tough shot.
“It left me with a 35-footer for birdie which only just missed. The 16th and 17th are also tough to birdie and I couldn’t manage it there.
“I played really well today and I’m happy, but it’s disappointing to miss out on winning again. However, in the past it has felt like I lost it; today it feels like I played well but someone else was a fraction better.”