Seven years after picking up the silver medal for best amateur at the Open Championship, England’s David Dixon captured his first European Tour title at the 108th attempt at the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by NEUFLIZE OBC.
Dixon’s one-shot victory, secured courtesy of a flawless round of 66 on an action-packed final day at Aa St Omer Golf Club, was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was nine shots off the lead after the opening round.
Since then, consecutive rounds of 67, 69 and 66 launched the 31 year old to the top of the leaderboard on five under par at the expense of overnight leader Christian Nilsson, who finished one shot back after a closing round of 71.
A round of 68 from Steven O’Hara was good enough to secure third place for the Scot on three under par.
But it was Dixon who collected the trophy, in the process taking the number of European Tour wins by Challenge Tour players to 200.
A stunned Dixon said: “I don’t really know what to say. I guess I’ll get home, speak to my family and manager, and try to make some sense of it all. It’s unbelievable really – it’s everyone’s dream to win a European Tour event. It’s my first win, so it’s massive, an awesome feeling. I can’t really get my head round it. It’s going to take a while to sink in.
“The biggest bonus today was that I didn’t think too much about what might happen if I won – I just blocked everything out my mind, and concentrated on the job in hand. I felt quite calm really. I was quite surprised about that, because I’ve always wondered what it might feel like to come down the stretch with a lead. I holed some really good putts on the last few holes to hold it together, and it worked out perfectly.
“But I played really well all day. I was hitting it close on pretty much every hole, and giving myself chances. Then I just kept playing percentages golf, because the pins were tucked away again. I took a bit of a gamble on the 14th, hitting a driver off the tee then a three wood into the green. But they were two great shots, so it paid off handsomely. After that I just hung on a little bit. So it’s been tough to get my first win on the board, but now I have I hope for many more.”
Gallant loser Nilsson narrowly missed out on a birdie at the 18th hole to take the tournament to a play-off.
The Swede, who equalled the course record with a second round 64, hid his disappointment well, and paid tribute to Dixon.
He said: “I thought level par would be enough today, but it wasn’t. I played quite well, but it wasn’t to be. David played really well and 65 is a great score, so well done to him.”
O’Hara’s round of 68 featured a run of four birdies on the back nine, but a bogey on the 17th put pay to his chances.
The English duo of Seve Benson and Richard Bland finished one shot back on two under par, along with Francois Delamontagne, the highest finisher of the home players.