Jens Fahrbring secured his second Challenge Tour title on a dramatic day in the D+D Real Czech Challenge, beating Ross McGowan by a single stroke after the Englishman’s birdie putt on the 18th green horseshoed round the hole.
Fahrbring signed off with a round of 68 for a 17 under par aggregate winning total, but the bare figures alone do not tell the full story of an enthralling final round at Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora, in Drítec, where the lead changed hands several times.
Having started the day two shots behind Nico Geyger, Fahrbring soon drew level with the Chilean courtesy of a 40-foot birdie putt at the fourth hole and a glorious approach to the par five seventh.
His sole blemish of the day at the ninth hole was duly cancelled out by a birdie at the next, but not before McGowan had signalled his intentions with a six birdies in seven holes from the fourth.
Another gain followed for Fahrbring at the 12th hole, whilst in the game ahead McGowan was creating –and largely spurning – birdie opportunities at virtually every turn.
The Englishman did finally make one count at the 14th, but just as though it looked to be developing into a two-horse race to the line, Frenchman Sebastian Gros made an eagle at the 16th to draw level with the leading duo on 16 under par.
Fahrbring duly responded with a birdie of his own at the same hole to move clear once again, and when Gros made a mess of the 18th – where he had to take a penalty drop after finding thick rough – it left McGowan as the Swede’s sole remaining challenger for the title.
When McGowan suffered his cruel twist of fate on the 72nd hole, Fahrbring knew he need just a par for victory and, despite finding a bunker with his tee shot, he duly completed the job with the minimum of fuss to lift the trophy and a cheque for €27,200.
Fahrbring, who climbs to second place behind Nacho Elvira in the Road to Oman Rankings, said: “This victory probably feels even more special than my first one [the 2013 Norwegian Challenge], because I had to fight a lot harder this time. That was pretty intense stuff out there today, and I’m just so relieved I managed to win. This is definitely one of the best days of my career.
“I was a bit nervous at the start of the round, and there were some very tough pin positions today. I had breakfast with Joel [Sjöholm] this morning, and he said the pin placements were some of the toughest he’d ever seen. I normally don’t carry a pin sheet with my scorecard, but when he said that I thought I better had, and I’m very glad I did!
“It meant I had to play safe, sensible golf for most of the day, then just try to take my chances when they came along. Fortunately my putter stayed hot today, as it has been all week. My lag putting was excellent again, and I holed almost everything from inside ten feet. To win any tournament you need your putter to be working, and it was working very well for me this week.”
In contrast, McGowan was left to rue several missed opportunities, not least that agonising putt on the last.
“It looked in all the way,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it when it came back at me, but golf can be a cruel game sometimes. Having said that, I probably had my fair share of luck earlier in the week, so it probably evened itself out overall.
“I’m looking forward to a bit of a rest now. I’ve been playing a lot this season, on the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour, so I need to give my body some recovery time. It would’ve been nice to go into the break on the back of a win, but it wasn’t to be and there are still plenty of positives to take from the week.”
Scotland’s Andrew McArthur finished in third place on 15 under par after signing off with a round of 67.