Wednesday, 26 July 2017
  (European Tour)
(European Tour)

Joel Sjöholm won his maiden European Challenge Tour title in style by carding a final round of 65 to triumph by four shots at the Italian Challenge Open by Lyoness.

The Swede started the final day two strokes behind overnight leader Bradley Neil, but following four birdies over the front nine he took the lead at Is Molas Resort. 

After Neil double-bogeyed the tenth, Sjöholm saw his lead rise to three shots, and after further gains at 12, 13 and 16, the 32 year old had the luxury of walking down the last with a four-shot cushion. 

Nine years since he joined the paid ranks, a jubilant Sjöholm was overjoyed to have claimed his first professional victory. 

“It feels amazing,” he said. “I never thought when I was ten years old that I would have to wait until I was 32 before I earned my first victory as a professional. 

“It is close to being the best thing that has ever happened to me. Obviously having children and getting married will always be the most special thing, but this is pretty incredible.

“I shouldn’t really be standing here. I was playing on an invite this week, and I have to thank Alain, the Challenge Tour Director, and my management for getting me into the tournament.

“I only got here on Wednesday, I missed my flight on Monday, and I was a little bit worried about not being able to play the golf course – but this week I just putted really well and that was the difference.”

Playing with Sjöholm in the final group were Neil and Chase Koepka, two players the experienced Swede didn’t think he was going to get the better of.

“When I started the day I didn’t think I was going to win,” he said. “Playing with Bradley yesterday I knew I had to play as best as I possibly could to have a chance.

“He messed up on hole number ten when he hit it in the water. Chase also missed a short putt and straight away that gave me a huge advantage – instead of leading by one I was leading by three.

“I played with two amazing players today. They tried their best but my putter was extremely hot this week, and although Chase and Bradley both played better than me from tee to green it was my putter that was the difference.”

With victory in Sardinia Sjöholm moves 93 places up to fifth in the Road to Oman Rankings.

Neil and Koepka, who both finished tied second, also moved into the top 15 – rising up to seventh and eighth place in the Rankings respectively.

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