Alessandro Tadini denied James Busby his first Challenge Tour title and Kristoffer Broberg a place in the history books after winning the ECCO Tour Championship hosted by Thomas Björn & Mercedes-Benz in a dramatic play-off.
After Tadini and Busby had shot respective rounds of 69 and 70 to finish level on 12 under par – one shot clear of the hat-trick seeking Broberg and his fellow Swede Klas Eriksson – the duo battled it out in a tense play-off, with the Italian eventually prevailing courtesy of a par at the third extra hole.
The victory was Tadini’s fourth on the Challenge Tour, and propelled him to ninth place in the Rankings with season’s earnings of €50,870.
The 38 year old can now start preparing for next week’s limited-field Rolex Trophy and next month’s money-spinning Kazakhstan Open safe in the knowledge that he has virtually secured a return to The European Tour already.
Tadini said: “I’m very, very happy. I played fantastically well this week, especially on the greens. The greens here are very difficult, so my putting won me the tournament. I kept the same feeling from the final round last week in Norway, where I shot a 64 which gave me so confidence. My irons were also fantastic this week, probably the best I have hit for a long time.
“Hopefully I can keep this feeling for the next few events and the rest of the season. When I arrived in Finland three weeks ago, my swing was very loose and I had no confidence at all. But slowly I’ve got my swing back after lots and lots of practice, so I knew I had a good chance this week. It really takes the pressure off me now, and hopefully I can now look to climb even higher in the Rankings.”
Tadini had set the pace for most of the day at Stensballegaard Golf in Horsens, Denmark, picking up birdies at the first, third, fifth and tenth holes to race to 13 under par.
But a bogey on the 15th hole, where he drove into the water, combined with Busby’s third birdie of the day, at the 14th hole, handed the Englishman the initiative.
He held onto his advantage until the final hole, but his wayward approach shot and subsequent failure to get up and down from the rough for par led to a play-off, which Tadini took at the third time of asking.
Busby said: “Obviously I’m disappointed, because I felt like I played well enough to win this week. But when I look back, I’m sure I’ll take a lot of confidence from how I played, because I know I’m good enough to win out here. I got a bit of bad luck in the play-off, because my tee shot ended up in a divot on the second hole and then I had a bare lie on the third hole. You need a bit of luck to win tournaments, and today wasn’t my day – but I’m sure it’ll come soon enough.”
Broberg, the winner of the Finnish Challenge and the Norwegian Challenge in the past two weeks, continued his astonishing run of form with a closing round of 71 for an 11 under par aggregate total, which was good enough to take a share of third place alongside the overnight leader Eriksson, who signed for a level par round of 72.
Broberg moves to fourth place in the Rankings on €69,280, having played just four Challenge Tour events this season.