Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva claimed a memorable home victory in the Fred Olsen Challenge de España, firing a flawless closing round 65 at Tecina Golf in La Gomera.
De la Riva finished one stroke clear of Englishman Simon Wakefield with a winning total of 19 under par to claim his maiden Challenge Tour victory at the €160,000 event, while the total of 265 (-19) is the lowest winning score so far this season.
Beginning the day three shots behind overnight leader, Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik, de la Riva got his final round off to the perfect start with a 40 foot putt for three at the first before capitalising on both of the front nine’s par fives with further birdies at the third and seventh, before reaching the turn in 32 shots thanks to a superb bunker shot at the ninth.
A further two birdies followed on the back nine at the par four 12th and long 17th to complete a blemish free final offering from the 29 year old, and he was understandably delighted.
He said: "I started very calmly and holed a 12 meters putt to get me in the game, then I chipped close on the third for birdie and after that I just let my game go because I knew there would be birdie chances on the way.
“I felt very comfortable out there, especially with my putter. I started playing with it last week where I had two bad rounds but was not the putter’s fault. This one is going to stay in my bag for a while. After so many years with belly and long putters now I feel I am a better player with the regular one.”
De la Riva also spoke of overcoming a long-standing back injury and his ultimate aim of making it back onto the top tier of European golf.
“I’m not sure of my schedule now. I have been diagnosed with two disk protrusions in my back and I have to treat them, and then I will decide,” he said. “My goal has always been The European Tour. Since I got the card nine years ago I have grown up as a player, as a person and in every sense.
“Now everything is going perfect and I want to play. I made the right fitness preparation and it has worked. I have been close to a win on the main Tour a couple of times lately, I know I can trust on my game and trust myself, I just have to hole the putts the way I did today."
England’s Simon Wakefield narrowly missed out on victory on the Canary Island after following up a superb 63 in Saturday’s third round with a five under par 66 to fall one shot short of de la Riva.
"I made a slow start with a bogey where I made eagle yesterday so that was disappointing,” said Wakefield. “It was difficult to catch up so I settled down and let my experience not to rush and be patient and it came. I knew I needed to birdie the 18th to catch Eduardo but couldn’t. Overall I am very happy with the tournament."
Two shots further back were the trio of Scotland’s Scott Henry, Spain’s Luis Claverie and France’s Alexander Levy, while Englishman Charlie Ford had earlier shot a course record 61 – ten under par – a superb performance featuring 11 birdies and just the one bogey that propelled him 38 places up the leaderboard into a tie for sixth at 15 under par.
"That was my first course record in competition,” said Ford. “I felt really good. Yesterday I played very well from tee to green but terrible on the greens; today I tried to do the same but hole some putts and made all the short putts. I’m very happy."
Overnight leader Vancsik joined Ford in a share of sixth place after closing with a one over par 72.
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