Frenchman Benjamin Hebert completed a stunning hat-trick of Challenge Tour victories this season by winning the Rolex Trophy by one shot after a five under par 67 in the final round.
The 24 year old had an anxious wait as, unusually for a last round, he finished some five hours before play was completed. Thunderstorms marred Friday’s third round, leaving 16 groups to return on Saturday morning. As a result, the fourth round had to be played with exactly the same draw as the third round in order to finish on time, and Hebert was out at 8.30am.
Having already claimed the Credit Suisse Challenge and the English Challenge in consecutive weeks earlier this summer, Hebert’s hat-trick gives him automatic promotion to The European Tour for the rest of this season and 2012.
Remarkably, he has won three of the last five events on the Challenge Tour schedule – and two in Switzerland.
“I am delighted,” said Hebert, whose scores of 66, 65, 71 and 67 gave him a 19 under par total for the €24,400 winner’s cheque and a Rolex watch. "It's like a dream. It was unusual to have to wait that long to find out if I'd won. I was pretty nervous watching the scores on the computer back at the hotel.
“I am very happy because I had a great finish. I putted brilliantly on the back nine. I holed a putt from 15 metres on the sixth, then one from five metres down the hill on the eighth for par as I’d hit my second shot in the water with a three wood. So that was crucial.
“And on the ninth I hit it very close with my approach and had an easy birdie putt. It was not easy out there with all the water on the course.”
Englishman Sam Hutsby had a one shot lead at the start of the final round, and extended that to two strokes at one stage, but his bid to match or exceed Hebert’s score unravelled at the seventh and eighth – his 16th and 17th – with a bogey and a triple bogey eight for a level par 72 and fourth place.
That left Spaniard Jorge Campillo the only other threat from the morning groups, but having reached 18 under par after 15 holes he was unable to birdie any of the last three to equal Hebert’s effort.
Austrian Florian Praegant and Englishman Tommy Fleetwod needed respective scores of 65 and 64 in the afternoon to force a play-off, and the latter nearly managed it, missing a five-metre birdie putt on the last to tie with Hebert.
“I knew I had to shoot eight under so I didn’t really think I had a chance,” said Fleetwood. “I usually go backwards on a Sunday so it was nice to do the opposite. I didn’t feel nervous. I’d got on a roll and felt really good. I don’t know whether I’d hit the putt differently if I had it again – it just rolled over the edge so it wasn’t far off going in.”
It is the third time this season Campillo has finished runner-up, and he was frustrated at another near-miss. He said: “I knew I had to birdie the last to go level with Benjamin, but I was in the rough for my second shot and it was 180 yards to the flag and a really tough shot.
“It left me with a 35-footer for birdie which only just missed. The 16th and 17th are also tough to birdie and I couldn’t manage it there.
“I played really well today, but it’s disappointing to miss out on winning again. However, in the past it has felt like I lost it; today it feels like I played well but someone else was a fraction better.”