Mark Tullo won his third European Challenge Tour title in swashbuckling fashion as the Chilean marched to a three-shot victory at the Vacon Open courtesy of a nerveless seven under par final round 64.
It was a first win in four years for the 36 year old and none will have been more deserving after he began the day one shot off the lead held by Englishman Charlie Ford and strode to a near-faultless round which took flight early on in the day.
Having birdied the par five second hole for the fourth successive time, Tullo came tantalisingly close to a hole in one and albatross at the par four fifth hole when he fired his drive to within inches of the cup for a tap-in eagle.
That gave the 2010 Challenge Tour graduate a massive fillip and the effects were immediate, as he birdied the next hole. It was a close-fought contest for much of the front nine with four players sharing the lead at one point.
The lead exchanged hands numerous times and when Tullo dropped a shot at the 12th, it looked like his race may have been run.
He bounced back in superb style though, with back to back birdies, before picking up two more shots at the 17th and the par five 18th, where he decided against playing conservatively despite his two shot lead, streaking his second shot to the back of the green before a composed two-putt for birdie gave him a winning total of 20 under.
“It feels great to win again,” said Tullo, who moved from 29th to ninth in the Challenge Tour Rankings. “It’s been quite a while since I've won so it’s awesome to know that you’ve still got the game and I'm turning it around at the right time.
“I didn’t even flinch today. So much has gone on in my life on and off the golf course, you just mature and there were no nerves. It was just excitement to keep going and going and go lower and lower.
“I never backed down and hit driver whenever I could hit driver. It was cool because I took on the golf course and I beat it.
“The shot of the day was at the fourth hole. That jump-started my round, then I birdied the next and every time I missed the green I chipped to a foot. I had one hiccup due to a bad drive but I birdied the next two in a row so whenever I stepped back I stepped forward again.
“I'm very happy. I didn’t even know who was winning until the 18th. I didn’t have a clue, I just played my game as I always do and then I was told I was two shots ahead.
“I'm not a player who backs down ever so I went for the green in 18, but I had no clue who was winning. I was on a high so you have to go for it. I don’t believe in laying up unfortunately! It goes to your disadvantage sometimes but this time it worked out so it was cool.”
“In life we all have good days, bad days, good years and bad years,” he said. “You just have to take it on the chin. We are blessed to be playing golf and I'm a person who looks at it that way. I've got a great family and here I am.
“Obviously it takes you a month to get your energy back after a tough season but this is my livelihood, you can’t just sit in your room and start crying, you’ve got to keep going.
“I've never backed down and I've always been gung-ho and I'm very happy that I’m succeeding again. It’s a great feeling. I wasn’t in the Rolex before and I got my spot in that now, with no invites or anything, just my own means.
“My goals are the same. I want to be back on The European Tour, whatever it takes. It’s much tougher up there and you have to have all parts of your game working. You could say I've been unlucky but I have to get better and if I do that I’ll be fine.
“Everybody has their ups and downs, that’s golf and that’s life but if you want to be a golfer you just have to keep doing it no matter what.”
Another experienced European Tour and Challenge Tour player, Pelle Edberg, finished in second place on 17 under par after following up his incredible third round 63 with a six under par 65 and the Swede was happy with what was his best finish on the second tier since 2011.
“This week everything just came around pretty nicely,” said the 35 year old. “I didn’t take advantage of the par fives today but overall it’s been a very good week.
“I played almost as good today as I did on the third day, I just didn’t make as many putts but it still wasn’t bad. I shot a five under back nine so that was really good.
“I had breakfast with Mark this morning and he said he was playing really well all week and obviously he played really well again today so a big congratulations to him.”
Ford earned his best finish of the season after a stunning second shot into the last almost dropped for albatross and handed him an easy eagle, a two under par 69 and outright third place on 16 under.