Sebastien Gros claimed the biggest victory of his career as he won the Kazakhstan Open by one shot at Nurtau GC to jump to the top of the Road to Oman Rankings and guarantee himself a place on The European Tour next season.
The Frenchman looked to be running away with it, opening up a three shot lead with eight holes to play, but Denmark’s Mads Søgaard, playing alongside Gros in the final pairing, fought back to tie the lead with five holes to play.
Nerves affected both players as they each made two bogeys down the final stretch to stand level coming down the 18th, but Gros made par to take his second victory of the season following his win at the Najeti Open Presented by Neuflize OBC.“I started the round so well,” he said. “Through nine holes I was in a great rhythm but then we were told we were playing too slowly and when we sped up I started making a few mistakes.
“I was struggling a bit as the greens were getting slower with the rain but thankfully I’d done a great job before and that was enough.
“I’m sorry for Mads because he played really well and never gave up, and he only had a short one to get into a play-off, but I’m so happy to have won.
Mads Søgaard, runner up, who fought Gros until the very final putt on the 18th green
“We were sure the birdie putt was going to drop, my caddie and I. It looked good the whole way. It would have been nice to win it like that but it doesn’t matter, I now have the trophy and that’s what’s important.
“I’m now on The European Tour and that’s good enough for me, even if I am now top of the Rankings. I was thinking €80,000 would get me there and I’m now way over that so I can start planning for next year.
“I’m very happy to be number one though. Ricardo Gouveia has had such a great season, so that’s awesome and we’re great friends – I’m sure our battle for number one will be great until the very end this year.
“I don’t have any plans in terms of my schedule, other than to celebrate this win, probably with a little more than just a beer!”
A memorable week in Kazakhstan, where two players made a hole-in-one on Friday, each winning an Audi in the process, drew to a suitably dramatic conclusion as Gros and Søgaard battled it out on the back nine for the largest prizefund of the Challenge Tour season, with €450,000 in total and €72,000 for the winner.
Behind the leaders there was a four way tie for third place between Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring, American Daniel Im, Scotland’s George Murray and Englishman Callum Shinkwin.Overnight co-leader with Gros and Søgaard, American Sihwan Kim, shot a two over par round of 74 but still finished in a tie for eighth place on nine under par overall.