Sunday, 04 August 2013
Stuart Manley (golfari.fi/Kai Kilappa)  (EuropeanTour)
Stuart Manley (golfari.fi/Kai Kilappa) (EuropeanTour)
Stuart Manley marched to his maiden European Challenge Tour title at the Finnish Challenge as a clinical final day performance earned him a three under par round of 69 and a two-shot victory at Kytäjä Golf, in Hyvinkää near Helsinki.

The Welshman has been a regular on both The European Tour and Challenge Tour since 2004 and has let chances slip before to claim a first title, but he made no mistake this time after bouncing back from a bogey on the opening hole to produce a nerveless performance when it mattered most.

A birdie at the opening par five, the third hole, calmed his nerves before he summoned the kind of form which produced 18 birdies, an eagle and just two bogeys in the opening three rounds.

Manley picked up two more shots at the fifth and seventh holes to reach the turn in two under and he extended his overnight lead from two shots to three thanks to a birdie at the par five 12th.

From there on in, it was a textbook performance in closing out a tournament from the Aberdare man and he clinched back to back birdies at the reachable par five 12th and the par four 13th to stroll to victory on the splendid North West course at the lakeside venue. He was even afforded the luxury of a bogey at the last before finishing on 21 under and picking up the €27,200 cheque.

“I'm just delighted to be honest,” said Manley. “It’s relief too. I used up a lot of energy today, it was tough because I didn’t have my A-game but I got the ball around well and positioned it well, didn’t take any risky shots and putted pretty solidly again.

“It was just patience and being positive. I played the first well but three-putted it and I couldn’t believe it, I had putted so well all week. I thought, ‘I didn’t need that’ but I turned it around and nobody really came at me that hard. It was not plain sailing but I had a nice cushion coming in so that was nice.

“I have had three or four second places and if I had lost again today, I would have been thinking ‘what have I got to do’ so it’s a massive monkey off my back and hopefully now if I'm in that situation again I can relish it instead of being a bit anxious.

“Every time you’re in that position you get more used to it, but you still have to get over that line and there’s nothing better than winning. I feel great.”

Manley’s win moved him to seventh place in the Challenge Tour Rankings and now he believes he has the confidence to go on and secure one of the all-important 15 European Tour cards on offer at the end of the season.

“This will obviously get me into the big tournaments at the end of the season and the financial boost makes the season easier,” he said. “I can do things the right way now.

“It puts me in a great position now to attack the big events so I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

José-Filipe Lima was the closest to catching Manley as the Portuguese carded three birdies and an eagle at the 17th to briefly threaten but he unfortunately ran out of holes and had to settle for outright second place, also moving to second place in the Rankings as his consistent season continues.

“I was chipping and putting well today and it was a good five under,” said the former European Tour winner, who signed for a five under par 67 to finish on 19 under. “I’m just looking for that win now and I know I'm not far away.

“I need to be patient and keep playing well and I'm quite happy to do that. I did a lot of work before the season so I'm happy, but the year is not over and I just have to keep doing what I'm doing.”

Three shots further back in tied third place were Englishman Jamie Elson, who carded a four under par 68, and Swede Jens Fahrbring, whose level par 72 earned him the best result of his Challenge Tour career.

François Calmels’ search for a third victory this year - which would earn him automatic promotion to The European Tour - continues despite the Frenchman’s charge on the final day, picking up four birdies and an eagle in his opening 12 holes to get to within three of the lead at one point, before finishing in tied fifth place.


 

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1JOANNES, HuguesBEL00:00-
T1BOSSERT, AndréSUI00:00-
T1FIGUEIREDO, PedroPOR00:00-
T1MATTILA, RikuFIN00:00-
T1NØRRET, ThomasDEN00:00-
T1DAHLGREN, NiklasFIN00:00-
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