Delight for Doak in Lyon

10/7/2012 5:07:32 PM
Chris Doak ()
Chris Doak ()
Chris Doak claimed the first European Challenge Tour title of his career after he emerged victorious on the third hole of a tense play-off, beating Tim Sluiter and securing his European Tour status for 2013 in the process.

The Scotsman’s win came courtesy of a three foot putt for a third successive par on the 18th after his Dutch counter-part missed an eight-footer for par following a wayward drive.

Doak had missed a golden opportunity to take the title outright at the end of regular play but missed a short putt at the 18th to record his only bogey of the day and sign for a five under par round of 66.

Sluiter had already come in an hour earlier after a stunning eight under par final round of 63 launched him into the clubhouse lead on 13 under par, a lead which he barely believed he would hold on to when overnight leader Lloyd Saltman stepped into the 17th tee a shot clear on 14 under, having avoided a single bogey all day.

But the Edinburgh man dropped a shot each on the final two holes to miss out on a chance of a play-off and instead it was Doak who flew the Scottish flag in the extra holes.

The two were neck and neck on the first play-off hole, both parring the par four 18th after missing equidistant birdie putts of around 12 feet and when they played the same hole again, Doak had another opportunity to claim victory but missed a 10 footer for birdie and they returned to the tee.

Once again, Doak was the more solid and although his drive found the rough just left of the fairway, Sluiter’s wild tee shot meant he had trees blocking his route to the green and he was forced to chip out to the fairway.

The Dutchman’s third shot fell to within eight feet before Doak rolled his birdie putt three feet short and when Sluiter slid his par putt wide of the hole, Doak was left with the simplest of putts to secure his first win on the European circuit.

“I’m still in game mode almost,” said Doak, after claiming the €25,600 winner’s prize. “I feel like I have another hole to play so it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

“It’s great to have a first win. I feel like it has been coming for a while and finally it is here. I finished well here last year too so I like this place.”

Speaking of the putt he missed to win in regular play, the 34 year old said: “I suppose a bit of pressure comes into it, because I had been concentrating on keeping still over my putts, but the job is done so that one doesn’t matter anymore.

“The putt to win was right to left and they are easier than the left to right putts so I was a little bit more confident with that one.”

The Greenock man moved from 20th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings to ninth, guaranteeing him a card for The European Tour next year, and he was delighted to have eased the pressure for the rest of the season.
“It’ll be great to be back on The European Tour,” he said. “There are still three tournaments to go this season though, so I will just try to climb up the Rankings as high as I can.

“I have been more consistent this year so it’s just good being in that situation where you always know where the ball is going to go and you’re in control. I put it down to the coaching I’ve been getting from Bob Torrance and also I’m mentally stronger than ever.”

Sluiter was disappointed not to have claimed his first Challenge Tour title, but was focussing on the positives having started the final day five shots off the lead.

“I was happy to get into the play-off in the first place,” said the 23 year old. “Well done to Chris, making three pars in the play-off, and I just got unlucky with the lie even though it was a very poor shot from the tee. I suppose tiredness came into it but it was just nice to have a chance.”

Joachim B Hansen, meanwhile, secured his European Tour card for the 2013 season after matching his playing partner Sluiter’s round of 63 to finish tied for third on 12 under and move from 13th to 10th in the Rankings.

He was joined in third place by Saltman, who signed for a two under par 69, and Spaniard Jordi Garcia Pinto, who boosted his chances of making the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final thanks to a six under par final round of 65.