Sunday, 14 October 2012
Andreas Hartø (Ota Mrákota) ()
Andreas Hartø (Ota Mrákota) ()
Andreas Hartø sealed his third European Challenge Tour title in stunning fashion as the Dane finished with four spectacular birdies to see off the brave challenge of his compatriot Joachim B Hansen and win the inaugural D+D Real Czech Challenge Open.

In the most dramatic of finales at Kunetická Hora Golf Club, Hartø was put under intense pressure on the closing holes as Hansen, playing one group in front, birdied four holes in a row just after the turn to move into a share of the lead with his fellow Dane.

Hartø kept his best until last however, as a birdie at the 15th was followed by a superb up and down at the par five 16th for birdie, having found the rough with his first two shots.

Incredibly, there was better to come at the par three 17th as the 24 year old produced a moment of pure golf magic to the delight of the watching crowds, rolling in a birdie putt from over 50 feet to extend his lead to two.

Despite the pressure on Championship Sunday, Hartø was engaging with the fans all the way through, sharing jokes and talking to kids, and he gave them a fitting finale when he rolled in a 15 foot birdie putt at the last to sign for a seven under par round of 65 and claim a three-shot victory.

“I’m just really happy,” said the Copenhagen native, who moved to second place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, just €125 short of leader Gary Lockerbie. “It’s a bit of a relief too because I have been chasing that victory all year and this week everything just came together for me.

“I played extremely well and the finish I had was just massive. Those putts at 16 and 17 were huge. I just wanted to get the putt on 17 close. It looked good all the way and I couldn’t believe when it went in. It was big because it meant I could just play safe on 18 with a two shot lead.

“The support this week has been absolutely fantastic. I feed off the smiles I get from the crowds and I got a lot of those this week. I play the best when I’m relaxed. It was the same in my previous two wins, it just calms me down. It’s just been fantastic, I really enjoyed playing here and I’m over the moon.”

Hartø is now relishing the opportunity of returning to The European Tour next year and more so because he will be joined by at least one of his close friends, the man he overcame in such a thrilling battle in the Czech Republic – Joachim B Hansen.

“He is a great player and he is going to have a great career,” said Hartø, who drove away with a brand new Peugeot 208 car as well as a cheque for €25,600. “The last couple of months have been fantastic for him and I'm looking forward to getting on The European Tour with him.

“We’ve shared rooms and travelled together this year and the more Danes we can get out on The European Tour the better. We’ve had so much fun this year on the Challenge Tour, it’s been fantastic.

“I’ve grown a lot this year on the Challenge Tour, whereas I basically went straight to The European Tour the last time so it’s definitely going to be different this time around.”

Despite the disappointment of missing out having come so close, Hansen was understandably pleased to sign for an eight under par round of 64 and claim his best finish of a season which has exceeded all expectations.

“It was a really good day but it was just too tough to catch up with a man who was four shots clear at the beginning of the day,” said the 22 year old, who moved to eighth in the Rankings.

“To shoot a 64 and hole so many good putts was great but you cannot do anything when Andreas has a six under round so I can’t complain.”

Garry Houston, meanwhile, finished in third place on 18 under par after a five under final round of 67 but it must have felt like a win as the Welshman secured his category on the Challenge Tour for next season and a place at Qualifying School Second Stage, having failed to make it through this year’s First Stage.

Steven Tiley carded a one under par round of 71 to fall to tied fourth position, alongside Germany’s Max Kieffer and Mikko Korhonen of Finland.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HARTØ, AndreasDEN18-24
2HANSEN, Joachim BDEN18-21
3HOUSTON, GarryWAL18-18
T4KORHONEN, MikkoFIN18-17
T4KIEFFER, MaximilianGER18-17
T4TILEY, StevenENG18-17
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