Victor Perez claimed a maiden European Challenge Tour title in some style at the Challenge de España, making a hole-in-one – the first of his career – on his way to a closing round of 65 and a three-shot victory.
The Frenchman started the day two shots behind leader Jarand Ekeland Arnoy but continued his form from Saturday, when he fired his way into contention with a 61, to reach an unassailable 24 under par at Izki Golf.
In his debut Challenge Tour season, the University of New Mexico alumnus is now 14th in the Road to Oman Rankings with just four events remaining, meaning a European Tour card is now well within his grasp.
“I can’t really put this into words,” said the 25 year old. “I actually won here in Spain last year on the Alps Tour so my dad was saying how I should do well this week as well.
“I came here playing well, I’ve played well for a while, and I managed to put it all together this week – I can’t really put it into words, it’s amazing.
“Yesterday was the most incredible day I’ve had on a golf course, I didn’t really know what was going on and everything just kept going my way, but I came into today knowing it was going to be different.
“I kept a good game plan, I knew Arnoy was on 19 under and two ahead so I knew that if I could get to 20 it would force him to shoot under par to win, that was my goal – if he shoots under par and beats me, that’s fine, but my job was to get to 20 under.
“To win now definitely opens up the end of the season for me. I’m in a good spot going into the last four events and now I just need to keep pressing.
“When you’re playing well, you need to just keep doing what you’re doing. Obviously I played aggressively this week and it went well so I’m going to keep doing that and hopefully the end of the season can go just as well as this week.”
The lead swapped several times on the front nine, Perez moving ahead when he holed his tee shot on the par three sixth with a nine iron from 171 yards before his bogey and Arnoy’s birdie on the ninth gave the Norwegian the advantage at the turn.
However, 20 year old Arnoy faltered down the stretch, dropping three shots in four holes from the 14th to give Perez – who picked up shots on holes 11, 12 and 15 – a four-shot cushion playing the last.
Arnoy’s aggression earned him a closing birdie but Perez’s par sealed a glorious weekend, with his 18 under par total for his last 36 holes worthy of winning any tournament.
For the Norwegian, this was a second successive runner-up finish on the Challenge Tour and a third in a row when you include his recent second place on the Nordic Golf League – he’s now up to 36th in the Rankings at this crucial juncture of the season.
Behind the leading two, Marcus Kinhult’s closing birdie earned him a share of third place with Oliver Farr on 17 under par and secured the Swede his best ever Challenge Tour result, moving him inside the top 15 of the Rankings in the process.
Jeff Winther’s 64 was the lowest round of the day and took the Dane to 16 under par, sharing fifth place with England’s Ben Evans and German Philipp Mejow.
Scott Fernandez finished as the leading Spaniard on home soil, his closing 70 putting him in a tie for 29th spot on 11 under par, one shot ahead of David Borda and Pedro Oriol.