A stunning round of 65, rounded off with three closing birdies, saw England’s Robert Dinwiddie capture his third Challenge Tour title in stylish fashion at the Kenya Open.
The 27 year old, winner of two titles in his maiden season in 2007, closed with a round of 65 – the best of the day and his lowest of the week – to finish on 12 under par, three shots clear of runner-up Julio Zapata of Argentina.
Dinwiddie got off to a shaky start with an opening bogey, but soon calmed his nerves with three successive birdies from the third hole. The only blip on the back nine was a bogey at the 11th hole but he promptly replied with four birdies, the last of which came courtesy of a 40 feet putt on the final green.
His winner’s cheque for €30,400 moved Dinwiddie, who finished fifth in the season-opening event in Colombia, to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings, and gave him every chance of bouncing back to The European Tour at the first time of asking.
Dinwiddie said: “It feels fantastic to win again, because it’s been a while. I hadn’t expected to win by three shots, but it was only right at the end that I was able to pull away. I just trusted my swing, and fortunately it held together under pressure. I was still nervous – it wouldn’t be natural if I wasn’t – but I managed to keep the nerves in check. Maybe the fact that I’ve won before helped me, because I was able to draw on the experience and use it to my advantage.
“I didn’t get off the best of starts, and after that thoughts start to go through your mind that maybe it’s not going to be your day. But I got going with the birdie on the third, and after that my confidence grew. To be honest today wasn’t my best ball-striking day, but my putter was pretty hot – I probably couldn’t have putted any better. The long one at the last was a bit of a bonus, but coming down the final stretch I holed some crucial putts for birdie and par which gave me a bit of breathing space.
“I also have to thank the crowd, because they helped me on the last hole. I couldn’t actually see the leaderboard from my angle, so I had to ask them what the state of play was. Obviously if I was behind or level, I would’ve gone for the green in two. But because I was two shots clear I was able to lay up, so I owe the crowd a beer for letting me know!
“The people here have been really friendly and I even had a bit of a fan club following me, because the local lad I played in the Pro-Am with brought some of his friends along. I had a great week, and it’s been a great start to the season for me. Winning so early in the year takes a bit of the pressure off and gives me a lot of confidence, so hopefully I can relax a bit more and enjoy the rest of the season.”
Zapata did his best to apply some pressure with a round of 67 but ultimately had to settle for second place, one stroke clear of overnight leader Oliver Fisher of England.
Fisher got off to a sluggish start with a bogey at the third hole and, despite a birdie at the 11th, his round never really kicked into gear.
A level par 71 meant he started and finished the day on eight under par, one shot clear of his compatriot Andrew Marshall, who closed with a round of 69