Raphael Jacquelin (Getty Images)
Raphaël Jacquelin has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for April following his record-equalling play-off victory in the Open de España at Parador de El Saler, Valencia, Spain.
Jacquelin, who receives an engraved alms dish and a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, hit a wedge to five feet for a winning birdie at the ninth extra hole to overcome Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer after Chile’s Felipe Aguilar had departed at the third extra hole.
The nine-hole play-off equalled The European Tour record established at the 1989 Dutch Open where José María Olazábal beat Roger Chapman and Ronan Rafferty.
Jacquelin’s marathon play-off success was his fourth career victory on The European Tour.
“This is the first time I have won the Golfer of the Month award, so it’s a very proud moment for me. When you look at the other golfers who won tournaments last month, it makes it even more special for me. Hopefully it won’t be the last time I win the award,” said Jacquelin, the Touring Professional for Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, a member of The European Tour Properties Network.
The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, found it difficult to separate a number of challengers in April.
The strongest challengers were Australian Brett Rumford, winner of the Ballantine’s Championship, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who captured the RBC Heritage on the US PGA Tour, and Angel Cabrera, who followed his play-off loss to Australian Adam Scott in The Masters Tournament by winning the Abierto Osde Del Centro in his native Argentina.
Renton Laidlaw, Golf Commentator for The Golf Channel and President of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “At demanding El Saler, Raphaël Jacquelin, one of The European Tour’s most stylish players, swung well in the testing winds, and kept calm using his experience to finally get the better of talented newcomer Maximilian Kieffer – it was a pity there had to be a loser but Jacquelin deserved his success and this award.”
Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent of the Daily Mail, said: “A magnificent month of achievements by any standards with everything that mattered decided in play-offs. Angel Cabrera, the game’s number one grandfather, lost his play-off but won many admirers both for himself and his sport with the breathtaking skill he showed over the final hour at Augusta and his sportsmanship at the finish as he embraced the winner, Adam Scott.
“Raphaël Jacquelin kept mind and nerve together, Brett Rumford won with an eagle and Graeme McDowell won his first regular PGA Tour event in grand fashion. Congratulations, too, should go to Thorbjørn Olesen for finishing tied sixth on his Masters debut despite an opening 78.”
Jacquelin will now be considered – along with previous winners Chris Wood (January), Darren Fichardt (February) and Marcel Siem (March) – for The 2013 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award and all will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Rory McIlroy.