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Johnston tastes Spanish success at Empordà

Johnston tastes Spanish success at Empordà

Liam Johnston put a tough couple of years behind him by securing his first victory since 2018 at the Empordà Challenge.

Johnston trophy

The Scot posted a three under par round of 67 to finish on 13 under par, two clear of Englishman Todd Clements who climbed the leaderboard on day four to secure his best European Challenge Tour finish at Empordà Golf.

Johnston, now a three-time Challenge Tour winner, had missed 16 cuts in his last 20 Road to Mallorca appearances before teeing it up in Girona this week but his perseverance paid off in style as he added the Empordà Challenge title to his 2018 victories at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 and the Kazakhstan Open.

“It feels pretty good. It's actually not just pretty good, it's incredible,” he said. “It's unbelievable, it's been a couple of really hard years for me recently, and even the start of this year has been tough, but I have just been persevering and working hard and I'm glad it's finally paid off here.

“It's nice to know that I've been working so hard for two years, sometimes not on the right things, but just keeping working hard, and just learning about myself.

“It's more that I'm just happy to see that it is starting to pay off now, more than anything else. You know what the Challenge Tour is, you have to stay on the front foot, you have got to keep pushing to try to get into that top 20 and then try to finish as high up as you can. Obviously it's nice, but I’m already thinking about the next few weeks going forwards.”

The 29-year-old navigated the final round with the poise of a seasoned winner, dropping just a single shot on the par four 17th hole, and he revealed afterwards that the first time he looked at a leaderboard was on the 18th tee, where he opted to hit a two iron.

“I didn't look at a single leaderboard all week until the 18th tee, I knew I was up there obviously because I was in the final group today,” he said. “I just kept an eye on my score and just really tried to get to 15 under - that was my goal for today.

“I was just trying to be as aggressive as I could because the guys behind me are all so capable of shooting seven or eight under and catching up. Once I got to the 18th tee and saw I was two shots ahead it made the decision for me.

“I was thinking earlier in the round that if I was in that situation I wasn't going to hit driver and that's what I did - I played the two iron and then a lovely five iron onto the green and managed to get out of there with two putts.”

Overnight leader Jens Dantorp posted a one over par round of 71 to finish third on ten under par, while Frenchman Gary Stal was a shot further back in fourth. France’s Clément Sordet, Norwegian Kristian Krogh Johannessen and New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier shared fifth place on eight under par.

Johnston’s victory sees him climb 94 places into tenth on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, while Clements occupies 12th place, up from 45th. Dantorp is into second after his third place continued the good form which saw him pick up the Challenge de España trophy last month, and is now just 28,000 points off top spot.

The Road to Mallorca now makes its second trip of the season to the Czech Republic for the Kaskáda Golf Challenge at Kaskáda Golf Resort from June 16-19.

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