Antonio Hortal captured his maiden Challenge Tour title with a home victory in the Challenge de Catalunya after the event was shortened to 54 holes.
The Spaniard picked up his fourth birdie of the back nine on the final green for a closing three under par 68 and winning score of 14 under par, 199, sealing a three-stroke victory over England’s Callum Shinkwin.
With the second day’s play effectively wiped out with the strong winds at Lumine Golf and Beach Resort, the tournament was cut to three rounds, with the 25 year old laying the foundations for his first victory with a course-record equalling 63 on Saturday.
Hortal has struggled to find his feet on the Challenge Tour, making only two cuts last season with a previous high finish of joint 21st, but this victory in his first event of his 2014 campaign has immediately lift him to third in the Challenge Tour Rankings with €25,600.
“It's feels great,” said Hortal. “I had no category when I got here and now everything has changed.”
Hortal admitted to feeling nervous before his round, waking up at 4.30am with the words of his coach and caddie, Alejandro spinning in his head. “He tells me, shot by shot, shot by shot - I think I did the course three times before starting the round!
“The key was, as my coach says, go shot by shot, not caring about the result, and I was very accurate putting.
My coach told me I could do something good, to believe in myself, in my game. Of course it was not on my mind I could be winning.
“Now I know I can win, and winning with the great field we had this week, feels even better".
Hortal made an early gain on the final day with a birdie on the second only to drop a shot on the next hole for a level par front nine. But he pulled clear with birdies on the 11th, 13th, where he found the putting surface with his drive on both occasions, and the 15th hole. With clear water between him and the chasing pack he could afford a dropped shot on the 17th before putting the icing on the cake with his birdie finish, hitting a hybrid onto the green and two putting.
Top spot in the Rankings is held by another Spaniard, Jordi Garcia Pinto, whose joint eighth finish will have instilled plenty of confidence ahead his next start in the European Tour’s Open de España in his home town.
“I am very excited to play there, there is nothing to lose there and a lot to learn,” he said. “I look forward to it.
"I am really happy the way I played and to finish with two birdies on the last 3 holes, especially after that double bogey on the 13th where I lost the ball to the right. Yesterday and today I've played spectacularly, and it is sad that we could not make a four round tournament because I feel my game is great here.
“It was important to have a good tournament and the sooner, the better to keep the position throughout the year.”