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Åkesson secures fairytale maiden Challenge Tour victory at Humewood

Åkesson secures fairytale maiden Challenge Tour victory at Humewood

Björn Åkesson completed a sensational return to professional golf by securing a maiden Challenge Tour victory at the NMB Championship after the tournament was reduced to 54 holes.

Akesson NMB Championship

The Swede posted a four under par round of 68 to reach 18 under par and win by one-shot ahead of two-time Challenge Tour winner Lee Slattery at Humewood Golf Club.

The 35-year-old retired in 2017 after losing his DP World Tour playing rights and falling out of love with the game, however he returned to the Challenge Tour this year after a stellar 2023 which saw him earn promotion by topping the Nordic Golf League Order of Merit.

“It feels amazing right now,” he said. “This win has given me so much confidence and belief in my golf game after not playing at this level for such a long time.

“I lost my DP World Tour card in 2016 and I wasn’t enjoying my golf anymore,” he said. “I decided to quit and go into coaching for a few years and after that I felt like I wanted to try and compete again.

“I graduated from the Nordic Golf League last season and I’m really looking forward to this year on the Challenge Tour.”

The NMB Championship was reduced to 54 holes due to strong winds on Saturday, meaning Åkesson was forced to resume his third round on Sunday after completing only four holes.

“I was quite nervous to re-start the round this morning, but I just focused on taking it shot by shot,” he said. “It was very tough on the back nine due to the wind and it made putting very difficult.

“I have always played well in the wind, and I concentrate on keeping it low and not swinging too hard in order to manage the spin. I don’t enjoy it but luckily I am quite good at it.

Australian Hayden Hopewell posted a four under par round of 68 to finish third on 16 under, while Frenchman Martin Couvra finished a shot further back in fourth.

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell finished fifth on 14 under par, while South African Jaco Prinsloo and Frenchman Romain Wattel finished sixth on 13 under.

Mikael Lindberg remains in pole position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings on 342 points, while Welshman Rhys Enoch is 11 points behind in second.

The Road to Mallorca will now take a two-week break before heading to India for Delhi Challenge at Classic Golf & Country Club from March 14-17.

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