A career best shot on Sunday afternoon enabled Julien Quesne to write his name into the record books and continue the dominance of former Challenge Tour players on The European Tour this season.
The unassuming Frenchman picked a prime time to post the lowest round of his fledgling European Tour career, a 64 which not only equalled the Aloha Golf Club course record set on the opening day by eventual runner-up Matteo Manassero of Italy, but also saw Quesne become the 400th different winner on The European Tour.
Since Antonio Garrido set the ball rolling with victory at the 1972 Open de España, a further 399 players have entered the winners’ enclosure, with Quesne becoming the 11th Frenchman to triumph on The European Tour.
His victory, which earned him €166,660 and took him to 24th in The Race to Dubai, was also the seventh by a former Challenge Tour player in ten European Tour events so far this term, following wins for Louis Oosthuizen (Africa Open), Branden Grace (Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions), Robert Rock (Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Omega Dubai Desert Classic) and Justin Rose (WGC-Cadillac Championship).
The quietly-spoken 31 year old won last year’s Allianz Golf Open de Lyon en route to finishing in 13th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, but coming down the stretch with a slender lead on Sunday afternoon at the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol was a rather more severe test of his mettle – and one he passed with flying colours.
Faced with a daunting approach to a narrow 18th green guarded by bunkers, Quesne did not blink, striking a superb four iron to six feet and duly rolling in the birdie putt to finish on 17 under par and spark celebratory scenes amongst the Tour’s French contingent who, in the absence of champagne, instead sprayed their compatriot in the Spanish equivalent, cava.
Speaking afterwards, the man from Bordeaux vowed to reward tournament host Miguel Angel Jiménez, who finished in a tie for seventh place, with a case of vintage ‘vin rouge’.
He said: “I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was ten. It wasn’t easy with Matteo, Miguel and Eduardo [de la Riva] all playing well, but I knew what I had to do. From the 15th hole I was asking my caddie to keep an eye on the scores, so I knew that if I holed my putt on 18 I would have a very good chance of winning.
“My four iron on 18 was the best shot I’ve ever hit. I’m very proud that I won shooting a 64, finishing with a birdie on 18, the toughest hole on the course. I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
“I’m particularly happy that I won the tournament organised by my favourite player, Miguel. I’ll send him a case of Bordeaux wine, because I know he likes it so much.”
Milestone winners on The European Tour International Schedule:
1 – Antonio Garrido, 1972 Spanish Open
50 – Vincent Tshabalala, 1976 French Open
100 – Jose Rivero, 1984 Lawrence Batley International
150 – David Gilford, 1991 NM English Open
200 – Jonathan Lomas, 1996 Chemapol Trophy Czech Open
250 – David Toms, 2001 US PGA Championship
300 – Stephen Gallacher, 2004 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
350 – Felipe Aguilar, 2008 Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open
400 – Julien Quesne, 2012 Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol