Sunday, 04 June 2017
Joel Girrbach (photo by Emanuel Stotzer) ()
Joel Girrbach (photo by Emanuel Stotzer) ()

Joel Girrbach secured a maiden European Challenge Tour title in front of a jubilant home crowd by carding a three under par closing round to become the first Swiss winner of the Swiss Challenge presented by ASG.

The home favourite held a one-stroke lead coming into the final round at Golf Sempachersee – a course he knows well, having played in the last eight editions of the Swiss Challenge.

Heavy rain overnight caused delays this morning in Lucerne, but Girrbach showed no sign of letting the difficult conditions affect him.

The 23 year old carded three birdies to reach the turn in 33, then went on to pick up further gains on the 11th, 15th and 17th – leaving him with a four-shot lead as he walked down the last.

A nervy double bogey at the 18th was soon forgotten, with an emotional Girrbach delighting the home fans as he held on for a two-shot win.

“I am speechless right now,” said Girrbach, who became the first Swiss winner on the Challenge Tour since André Bossert triumphed at the 2008 MAN NÖ Open.

“I am super, super happy to do this in front of my home crowd. This tournament means so much to me. I started playing professional golf at this tournament, and it makes me so happy to have won here.

“There were a few tears – it was very emotional to win in front of my friends and family like that.

“I really stuck to my game plan today. I was just really calm throughout the round, and I felt that was the most important thing for me today.

“I rolled in some really nice putts, I made birdie on nine and a really good par save on 13 when I holed one from about 50 foot. My short game overall was really key today.

“It is an amazing event. There are always great crowds and what the greenkeepers did here this morning was amazing.

“It is really good to start the season like this. It is nice to win early because it makes you feel safe right now – you can relax slightly.

“After enjoying the next tournament the focus will start again and I can hopefully carry on this winning form during the rest of the season.”

With this victory Girrbach climbs up to fifth in the Road to Oman Rankings, having started the week in 87th place.

Scotland’s Craig Lee, who finished second on 15 under par, moves from 140th to 14th place in the Rankings, while America’s Julian Suri maintained his position as Challenge Tour Number One by claiming a share of third place in Lucerne.


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