Pedro Oriol claimed a maiden European Challenge Tour victory at the Rolex Trophy by overcoming Adrien Saddier in a play-off at Golf Club de Genève and credited a trip to the legendary Seve Ballesteros’ house for inspiring his success.
The Spaniard, who moves up to third in the Road to Oman Rankings, fired a seven under par final round of 65 to set the clubhouse target on 17 under par before Saddier missed a putt to win, bogeying the last to set up the first play-off of the season.
The Frenchman played first, putting his tee shot into the water, and Oriol sensibly laid up on the short par four 16th, chipping on and making sure with two putts for a par that beat Saddier’s bogey.
Oriol’s maiden win comes almost exactly eight years after he turned professional but it was his recent visit to see his friend Javier Ballesteros, son of the golfing great, that was closest to his mind as he toasted his dramatic victory.
“It’s very special because last weekend I was in Seve’s house with his son,” said the 31 year old. “Javier is a great friend of mine and I was sleeping in his home, I went to the room with his golf clubs, and I took a lot of inspiration this week.
“His son gave me this visor with Seve’s outline on it – usually I change my visor every day but I wore this all week and it has inspired me, so it’s very special for me to win this week.
“I have a lot of feelings inside of me. It’s unbelievable, my first win as a professional, I am very happy and I don’t really know what to say.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time – two days ago was eight years for me as a pro, so it’s been a long time coming, a long wait, but hopefully it’s the first of many.
“When I saw Saddier making birdie on 15 I knew it was going to be close but 17 and 18 are tricky holes and I knew I had a chance – I’m sorry for Adrien after he missed that putt on 18 to win but that’s golf.
“I told my caddie I was going to enjoy the play-off. I was seven under today and I would have dreamed of being in the play-off before the tournament so I just tried to do the best I could – and I won!
“I was always going to play the play-off how I did it, no matter that Adrien went in the water, it didn’t change anything. My hands were so shaky over those putts to win but I had two chances and it was enough.
“I’m in a perfect place but the job is still not done. There are still a lot of big tournaments to do and I’m now in a good position to win the Rankings, why not, but the main target is to stay in the top 15 and go to the European Tour next year.”
Saddier led for almost all of the final round after overnight leader Borja Virto struggled on the front nine, turning in 41 on his way to a share of 17th place.
Dominic Foos joined Saddier on 17 under par at the turn before the Frenchman’s birdie on the 15th looked to be definitive, but an unfortunate three-putt on the last hole meant a play-off was required – the fifth time extra holes have been needed to settle the Rolex Trophy.
Adding to a great day for Spanish golf was Scott Fernandez, whose closing 65 took him to 16 under par and into a share of third place alongside Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli.
Ryan Evans lived up to his newly acquired ‘Top Ten’ nickname by tying for fifth place with Mikael Lundberg, with Foos dropping a couple of shots late in his round on his way to seventh spot.