Scotland’s Jamie McLeary captured his second Challenge Tour title six years after the first thanks to a brilliant five under par 67 in the final round of the KPMG Trophy in Belgium.
The 34 year old withstood the charges of Irishman Ruaidhri McGee and Dutchman Taco Remkes with six birdies and a bogey, reaching 13 under par overall and taking the €25,600 first prize.
As the final group teed off, 30 players were within three shots of the lead, but McLeary soon accelerated ahead with three consecutive birdies from the second.
At one stage the Edinburgh man had a four stroke advantage, but it was down to one by the time he reached the 18th. Knowing a par would be good enough to win, he duly delivered.
“I’m as happy as Larry,” said McLeary. “I was actually more nervous at the start than at the finish. I hit a poor tee shot off the second and I got lucky. Normally when I’m nervous I don’t drive the ball well, and that happened today.
“I three-putted the 14th to put myself back into the pack a bit, but apart from that I played well.
“When you’re leading you want to get off to a good start. The worst thing is when you make a couple of early bogeys. So I was glad to start well. My short game was a lot better than it was yesterday, so that was where I made the score.
“I knew there were a lot of people close, and three shots can go in one hole if you make a mistake. I tried not to look at the leaderboards, and once I was three under through four I knew I’d given myself a bit of a cushion.”
McLeary lost his European Tour last year after finishing 152nd in The Race to Dubai, but now has his sights set on returning to the top tier.
“This gets the monkey off my back as I’ve earned a sizeable chunk – it takes the pressure off a bit,” he said.
“You don’t want to be going into the second half of the season chasing your tail.
"I’ll be able to go into the lucrative events at the end of the season able to relax a bit. I’ll go to the Rolex Trophy now, which is one of my favourite events, and the Grand Final and all the China events. I’m very happy.”
Remkes, who birdied the 16th and 17th to apply some late pressure, was able to see the positives in coming second, having spent the second half of last season recovering from back surgery.
“When Jamie bogeyed the 14th I told myself just to go for it, and I made two really good up-and-downs for birdie on 16 and 17,” said the 30 year old. “I tried to birdie 18 as well but it was too tough an approach from where I was off the tee.
“Fair play to Jamie, he’s played really well this week and deserves to win. I’m pretty happy as finishing in the top ten gets me into Saint-Omer next week.
“I’ve had a back injury since 2010 and after surgery last year I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to play golf again, so I’m very happy that I am and this is a very good result all things considered.”