Julien Brun became the sixth amateur in history to win on the Challenge Tour after securing a nail-biting triumph at the ALLIANZ Golf Open Toulouse Metropole.
The Challenge Tour debutant delighted the sizeable crowd who had gathered at a windswept Golf de Toulouse-Seilh, in south west France, by following in the footsteps of his compatriot Romain Wattel, who won the ALLIANZ Europen Strasbourg as an amateur two years ago.
In an astonishingly mature performance which betrayed very few signs of his inexperience, Brun closed with a round of 70 for a 13 under par aggregate total and a one shot victory over Matteo Delpodio.
The Italian put pressure on his young playing partner with a late birdie to close the gap to a single stroke, but Brun held his nerve in admirable fashion to close with a par and so become the tenth debutant to win on the Challenge Tour.
Brun’s win gives the 20 year old from Antibes a place on the Challenge Tour next season but, as he is currently in the second year of a four year scholarship at Texas Christian University, in America, his immediate future remains unclear.
The three-time collegiate champion will make a decision over the coming weeks, but first he will compete in the World Amateur Team Championships in Turkey at the start of next month – before returning to Dallas to catch up on his studies.
He said: “It feels great. I’m a little surprised, I don’t really know what to say. Maybe next week I will be able to describe my feelings a bit better, once it’s sunk in a little more. I felt a lot of pressure out there, because there were big crowds following me and I really wanted to win.
“Of course I felt nervous, but not as nervous as I did when I won my first tournament in college. I’ve got a bit more experience now, so I know what I need to do and I was able to carry out my plan very well today.
“The birdie on three was a good way to settle my nerves, although I hit a loose drive on the next hole to give a shot straight back. It was one of those days really, I hit some great shots but also some pretty poor ones, but the main thing is that I managed to get it done.
“The goal now is to go to Turkey for the World Amateur Team Championships, play well there and then have a think about my next move. I’ve now got a Challenge Tour category for next season, so I’ve got a decision to make on whether I play or go back to college. I’ve also got lots of schoolwork to catch up on, so I don’t think I’ll be celebrating too much!”
Delpodio, whose birdie putt on the last hole rolled agonisingly past the cup, was understandably disappointed to have missed out on securing his maiden Challenge Tour victory after signing for a round of 70.
But the 27 year old from Turin, who is friends with the 2009 Challenge Tour Rankings winner Edoardo Molinari, could at least console himself with the €25,600 winner’s cheque – as Brun’s amateur status prevents him from earning any money.
That moved Delpodio to 38th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, and virtually guaranteed him a place in the 45-man Apulia San Domenico Grand Final at the end of the season.
He said: “I gave it my best shot, which is all I could do. I got off to a good start, which made a nice change. I made a few mistakes which could’ve been avoided, such as the three-putt for bogey on the 12th. But I was really pleased with the way I picked up some shots coming in to put some pressure on Julien. Credit to him, because he played very well and deserved to win. Hopefully it will be my day soon.”
Despite two double bogeys on the front nine, England’s Eddie Pepperell finished on 11 under par thanks to a round of 68 which was good enough to take third place.
He said: “I’m really proud of the way I dug in and fought hard today, because I didn’t play that well. I was thinking a lot about my win in Brittany at the start of the season, because it was really windy that day too. In the end I came up just short, but third is still a lovely result and it gives me a great chance of finishing inside the top 20.”
France’s Michael Lorenzo-Vera achieved his best result of the season, a fourth place finish after signing off with a round of 69.