François Calmels put on one of the classiest performances of the Challenge Tour season with a brilliant final round five under par 67 to close out an emphatic seven stroke victory at the Challenge de Madrid.
The Frenchman, one clear at the beginning of the final round, produced a clinical, comprehensive final round performance to finish the week at El Encín Golf Hotel on 17 under par 271 – a magnificent seven shots clear of his closest challenger, Tapio Pilkkanen of Finland.
“I played so well today,” said Calmels after receiving the Challenge de Madrid trophy, and the first place cheque for €25,600, which propels him to fifth place in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
“I hit all the right shots and made a lot of good decisions which was really satisfying because the conditions were tough out there today.”
Calmels began the week with a course record nine under par 63 at the El Encín Golf Hotel, but his performance of the week came in the final round.
Having seen his three shot first round lead reduced to one by Saturday night, the Frenchman could have been forgiven for looking over his shoulder at a hungry chasing pack.
Instead, Calmels did what all great winners do at the crucial moment and raised his level of performance, splitting the first fairway with a crunching drive, finding the par five green with an eight iron and draining the eagle putt from 40 feet.
Calmels’ explosive opening set the tone for the day and he would not be caught from that moment. Any time he showed a slight weakness (he made two bogeys on the front nine), his recovery was instantaneous, taking him to the turn in two under and with a three stoke lead behind him.
He effectively ended the tournament two holes later, with back-to-back birdies on the tenth and 11th taking him five clear. A final birdie on the 16th ensured the most comprehensive of victories, just one short of the Challenge Tour record held by Markus Brier and Bradley Dredge.
Calmels is hoping his victory will set the tone for a successful Challenge Tour season and the ultimate prize of a return to The European Tour.
“It feels great to win again,” said Calmels. “My goal at the beginning of the season was to get back to The European Tour and I think I have made a big step towards that. It is only the third event of the year, but I hope I can play like this for the rest of the year.
“I have practised this winter with my coach at home, Frank Schmid, but I would like to thank Benoit Du Colombier for all the work I have done with him. We are still working on some changes but you can see that the results are coming ad that I am doing the right things.
“That is one of the most pleasing aspects to winning. I know that the changes I making are worthwhile and that if I get into a position to win then I can finish the job.”