Robin Roussel went the entire weekend without dropping a shot to secure his first European Challenge Tour victory on home soil at the Hauts de France – Pas de Calais Golf Open.
The Frenchman began the day one back of leader Daan Huizing, but immediately took control of the tournament with a birdie on the opening hole, which gave him a lead he would never relinquish.
“It’s a very special feeling, I don’t have the words right now,” he said. “I just enjoyed the moment so much and the crowd so much. They’ve been very, very supportive all week long. It’s such a great feeling.”
“No bogeys all weekend, I didn’t think about it, but I feel like I just played perfectly.”
The tournament, which is played at Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club—one of the most difficult courses on the Challenge Tour International Schedule—quickly became a two-horse race as Roussel, and the third man playing in the final group, Richard Bland, separated themselves from the field and played much of the back nine tied for the lead.
The battle down the stretch was riveting, but the tie was eventually broken when Bland bogeyed the 16th hole. Seizing the moment, Roussel put the tournament away on the 72nd hole when he hit his approach to inside three feet, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
“It was such a good battle with Richard,” Roussel said. “The crowd helped me a lot on the last few holes.
“At the start I was very focused and hitting only good shots, so it was not too hard to go low, but at the end I could feel my game becoming less accurate and so the crowd was amazing—just perfect—and thanks to them I could win.”
The five under par round of 66 gave him the victory, which also marked his fourth top 10 finish of the season in only six starts. As a result, the Paris native will move up to the fourth position on the Challenge Tour Rankings.
The 25-year-old now has his sights firmly locked on finishing the season in the top 15 and earning a European Tour card.
“I’ve been thinking about my European Tour card since the start of the season,” he said. “I knew my game was getting better and better.
“I’ve been working very hard for the last two or three years, and I think I’ve put everything on my side to reach the European Tour.”
For Bland, the disappointment of not winning will be eased by the fact he has recorded his second-consecutive runner-up finish on the Challenge Tour, after finishing tied second last week at the Swiss Challenge Presented by Swiss Golf.
The pair of strong finishes have moved the 46-year-old Englishman into third on the Rankings and also puts a return to the European Tour within reach.
The Challenge Tour will now travel to Spain, for the Andalucia – Costa del Sol Match Play 9, which runs from June 20-23.