Julien Guerrier made a late charge to win his first European Challenge Tour title in dramatic fashion at the Hauts de France Golf Open.
The Frenchman started the final round with a share of the lead alongside Scotland’s Jack Doherty, and the pair exchanged blows throughout the closing 18 holes at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club.
Guerrier made the perfect start with a birdie at the first, but after bogeys at the third and seventh, he relinquished the lead to Doherty who made gains at the sixth and ninth to move clear at the top of the leaderboard.
Back to back birdies around the turn for Guerrier saw the momentum shift and after Doherty dropped shots at the 12th and 13th, the pair were back to being all square with five to play in northern France.
An errant drive at the par four 15th saw Guerrier in trouble once again, and after he made bogey it appeared to be advantage Doherty, who went one clear with two to play after the pair both made pars at the 16th.
Buoyed by the home support, Guerrier rallied to make birdie at the par three 17th and it appeared that a play-off was looming in Lumbres as the pair both walked down the 18th fairway tied for the lead at seven under.
Both players failed to find the green with their second shots on the par four final hole, but after Doherty struggled to play out of the rough, Guerrier chipped to four feet to leave himself with a simple putt for par.
As an ecstatic home crowd watched on, Guerrier confidently tapped in for a one stroke win – and he was delighted to claim victory on home soil.
“It is an amazing feeling,” said the 31 year old, who finished on seven under par overall. “I have been trying to win on the Challenge Tour for a long time now, so to do it now, in France, is very special.
“It was a very tough day. You have to be very alert and focused around this course. Over the years I have learnt that even if you are in a position where you are leading by three shots with three to play anything can still happen.
“I know I am a fighter on the course so I just tried to hang in there and score well even if I wasn’t doing my best.
“The putt on the 17th was very tough and that changed a lot of things and it put a lot of pressure on Jack. I am disappointed for him as Jack is a very nice guy but I have let other players win instead of me many times – so now it is my turn.
“Jack and Lorenzo played really well, it was a very good match, and I hope they both win soon. Lorenzo is a good friend of mine so we could feel the tension when we were playing together.
“It is a long season so I am going to just take things step by step – but I definitely have my eye on the top 15.”
After winning in Saint Omer Guerrier moves up to fourth in the Road to Oman Rankings, while Doherty – who finished in a share of second place alongside Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos – rises up 80 places to 23rd.