Matteo Delpodio gave Italy a home winner as he took a sensational three shot victory in the EMC Challenge Open at Rome’s Olgiata Golf Club.
The 30 year old led the tournament from start to finish, sealing a maiden Challenge Tour win with a level par final round of 71 as he held off a final day charge from Gary Boyd.
Turin-born Delpodio, cheered on by a large contingent of family and friends, had to complete his third round on the fourth morning after weather delays dogged the first three days, but he said that the hard work was all worthwhile.
Walking up 18 was a dream - one of the best feelings I've ever had on a golf course and I will keep that moment forever
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment and to have a victory here in Italy, in Rome, is just a dream come true, a fantastic moment.
“It has been a very long day, the toughest day on the golf course I’ve ever had – though it’s now the greatest ever! The course is very demanding and I was not playing as well as yesterday so I really had to focus on every shot and every hole, not worry about any numbers.
“When you are leading by a few shots sometimes it is more difficult than when you are tied for the lead because you have to keep the advantage, and how do you do that? You have to go for it. So I forgot about the numbers and focused on my game.
“It changes the end of the season, and next season, for me now. I was thinking in the last few weeks that I’ve been playing well, so I wouldn’t say I was expecting a good event but I was in a position where I was ready to have a good week, and it’s great that it came here in Rome.
“Walking up 18 was a dream. My mum was here, and it’s the first time she’s followed me at a Challenge Tour event, and I knew I was winning the tournament, so it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on the golf course and I will keep that moment forever.”
Delpodio became the first Italian winner on the Challenge Tour since Marco Crespi won the NH Collection Open 18 months ago, and the first home winner of the EMC Challenge Open since Edoardo Molinari’s victory in 2009.
England’s Boyd, on his 29th birthday, finished with four straight birdies for a round of 68 and second place on his own, two shots ahead of Frenchmen Edouard Dubois and Thomas Linard and Sweden’s Sebastian Sӧderberg.In a group of players one shot further back was Ricardo Gouveia, falling just short in his bid to become the first player to retain a Challenge Tour title since Daniel Vancsik in 2004, but closing the gap to Sebastien Gros at the top of the Road to Oman Rankings with a tied sixth finish.