Frenchman Philippe Lima capped an unbelievable fortnight by taking the Aa St Omer Open with a sensational final round 66 that secured his second consecutive victory in as many weeks, and accelerated the 22 year old Challenge Tour player onto The European Tour.
Lima, who won for the first time on the Challenge Tour last week at the Segura Viudas Challenge de España, took another step towards stardom by securing his maiden European Tour title at the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open with a one shot victory over Italy’s Alessandro Tadini, with England’s David Geall a further shot back.
The Frenchman was visibly overwhelmed by his “life changing” performance that guarantees him a one year exemption to the European Tour in 2005, as well as being able to play out the remainder of this season on the 2004 European Tour International Schedule.
“This has changed my life, it is hard to take in at the moment but I know for sure that my life is changing!” said Lima after collecting his first prize of €66,660. “It has been an unbelievable two weeks for me, firstly with my victory in Spain last week, and then to win here is just a dream come true for me.
“I don’t know what my schedule will be like now, I just haven’t had time to think about it, but now I will definitely go to the Open de France and play on The European Tour – who knows, it could be three wins in a row!”
Lima began the final round at the St-Omer Golf Club three shots behind Geall and five other players, but stormed to victory with a brilliant five under par round of 66 that included six birdies and a single dropped shot.
The Frenchman had shot three consecutive rounds of level par 71 going into the final day, before his putter got hot on the tricky St Omer greens during round four and enabled him to post his winning score in the clubhouse with Tadini playing in the group behind him.
The Italian was level with Lima as he came down the last and he found the green with his approach, leaving himself a 40 foot putt for the tournament. To Tadini’s credit, he made sure his ball was never going to be short as he putted for the title but watched it slide agonisingly past the hole, leaving himself a four foot putt to send the tournament into a play-off.
Tadini missed that opportunity, but took some consolation in the fact that he is now the Number One player on the Challenge Tour Rankings after securing a cheque for €44,440 to add to the €15,528 he won in taking the Costa Rica Open at the start of the Challenge Tour season, as well as his two top ten finishes in the Tessali-Metaponto Open di Puglia e Basilicata and the Segura Viudas Challenge de España.
He said: “Obviously I am disappointed to have missed the putt on 18, but I think that the money I have won here, and at the start of the year in Costa Rica will bring me close to securing a place on the European Tour next year as one of the top 15 Challenge Tour players.”
Tadini tops the Rankings with €68,893, but the day, and indeed the last 14 days, belonged to Lima, who now joins Ernie Els and the rest of The European Tour’s elite on The European Tour International Schedule.