An astonishing last round which featured two eagle twos saw Christian Cévaër come from behind to win the Canarias Open de España, his maiden title on The European Tour International Schedule, after an amazing final afternoon in the sunshine at Fuerteventura Golf Club.
The 34 year old Frenchman eventually finished with a 69 for a nine under par total of 271 and a one shot victory over the entire final group threesome of Ricardo Gonzalez, Peter Hedblom and long time leader David Park, who carded respective final rounds of 71, 70 and 72 for 272.
Cévaër picked up the first prize of €275,000 (£183,674) which helped move him to ninth place on the Volvo Order of Merit with €300,865 (£200,950), but the mere statistics do little justice to the extraordinary final afternoon as layer upon layer of drama unfolded on the sunkissed Canary Island.
Cévaër started the ball rolling at the opening hole where his pitching wedge approach from 137 yards found the bottom of the cup for an eagle two. Following birdies at the third and fifth moved the Frenchman into a challenging position but when he dropped four shots in seven holes around the turn, the pendulous nature of his afternoon looked to have swung him out of contention.
The reason for that was, that in the match behind, Ricardo Gonzalez, winner of last week’s Open de Sevilla and the man looking to become the first player since Vijay Singh in February 2001 to win consecutive European Tour events, held a healthy lead.
Indeed with three holes to play, he was three shots ahead before the 349 yard 16th became the pivotal hole of the entire contest. Firstly, after a superb drive, Cévaër notched his second pitch-in eagle two of the day, this time from 53 yards with a lob wedge to move to nine under par for the tournament.
He was still one behind Gonzalez but, minutes later, and in attempting to cut the corner of the dog-leg hole, the big hitting Argentine pulled his drive out of bounds and compounded the error by three putting with his second ball for a double bogey six.
Incredibly, it left Cévaër in the lead by a shot but he had to show all his nerve to pitch and putt from the right of the 18th green to set the clubhouse target, holing out eventually from four feet.
It left the trio of Gonzalez, Hedblom and Park all requiring a birdie three at the last to force a play-off but none could produce the goods, which left Cévaër celebrating his first European Tour title to add to his three victories on the Challenge Tour.
“I feel fabulous and really happy that my perseverance has paid off,” said Cévaër. “I am happy to have clinched one of the first opportunities that I have had. I know how tough it is because you do see guys finishing on podiums a lot and my goal is to contend a lot more from now on.”
In the immediate aftermath of his victory, Cévaër dedicated the win to his father Yves, watching on television back home in France, whose belief and backing of his son enabled him to live out his dream of being a professional and now winning on The European Tour.
“It has been a long time but I wanted him to enjoy watching me and feel the rewards for everything that he did, not only money that he put in but also the belief he had in me,” he said.
Sharing second place enabled Gonzalez to move one place above Cévaër on the Volvo Order of Merit and into eighth and the Argentine admitted that events at the 16th had been his undoing.
“Finishing second is not bad, especially after last week, but it was just one bad shot which cost me, the shot went wrong because I wasn’t thinking straight but that is the way it goes something,” he said.
Alongside him, Hedblom had a chance of adding to his 1996 Moroccan Open victory but, despite picking up vital birdies, he also shed shots at the wrong time such as at the 14th where a poor drive led to a bogey five. “I’m certainly a bit disappointed but it is nice to finish in second place as well,” he said. “I felt I was still in with a chance up to the 17th but it just didn’t happen.”
Perhaps the most disappointed was David Park, who had led from day one but who saw his chance of victory largely evaporate when he suffered an outward half of 40 during which he thought he had incurred a penalty shot for grounding his club in a bunker on the fourth before being told on the seventh tee by Chief Referee John Paramor that no offence had taken place.
It spoke volumes for the Welshman’s resolve that he battled back with three birdies in a flawless inward half of 32 which nearly secured him a place in a play-off.
“If I have one regret, I should have asked right there and then what the penalty was because I played a couple of holes thinking I had incurred a penalty before discussing it with John on the seventh tee who told me I hadn’t,” he said.
“It didn’t prey on my mind too badly, but I just felt a little silly really because I have been playing this game for a long time and you should know what to do but it was a spur of the moment thing. But I was pleased to fight back the way I did and I nearly got into the play-off, which was a really good effort.”