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Porsche European Open has become a recent home for first-time winners

Porsche European Open has become a recent home for first-time winners

Since the Porsche European Open was first held at Green Eagle Golf Courses in 2017, the event has proved the scene of several first-time winners on the DP World Tour.

With Tom McKibbin's break-through victory, five of the last six editions held in Germany, someone has made their breakthrough into the winner’s circle.

From a long-awaited success after years of toil on Tour to another uplifting breakthrough success two decades on from family tragedy, the tournament has produced several eye-catching storylines in recent years.

In just his 26th start on the DP World Tour after graduating from the 2022 European Challenge Tour, Tom McKibbin held off home favourites Maximilian Kieffer and Marcel Siem with a final round of 70 to finish nine under par, two shots clear as France's Julien Guerrier also shared second place at Green Eagle Golf Courses.

The Northern Irish rookie, who hails from the same town as Rory McIlroy, started the day in a six-way tie at the top and finished with a flourish, hitting an incredible five iron to the heart of the green on the 72nd hole and two-putting for birdie.

Having battled all day at the top with Kieffer, McKibbin regained the outright lead for the final time with a birdie at the 15th, and parred his next two holes before coming to the last and winning with his dad in the crowd.

He said: “It probably won’t sink in until tomorrow but to have my dad here, to win in front of him is pretty amazing.

“It was a great day, nice to go out and put a really, really nice round together.

“(I’ve learned) that I’m good enough to win. I always thought I was but to prove it today was pretty special.”

By claiming the title last year, Kalle Samooja ended a four-year run of English wins to earn his first win.

The Finn tamed the Porsche Nord Course – renowned as one of the most challenging on the circuit – as he shot a course-record eight-under-par 64 in the final round to win by two shots.

Samooja started the final day seven shots adrift of the lead but fired eight birdies in a blemish-free round as he closed out the week with back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th.

Finishing his round as the late starters – including the previous week’s winner Victor Perez – were in the early stages of their back nines, the 2018 European Challenge Tour Graduate faced a two-hour wait before his victory was confirmed.

The triumph was made even sweeter as Samooja claimed a spot into the U.S. Open Championship at Brookline later as one of ten players to qualify through the European Qualifying Series.

After two prior runner-up finishes on the DP World Tour, an elated Samooja said: "It is truly special. It's been a long journey. I've been close a few times.”

A year earlier in 2021, Marcus Armitage also stormed through the field with a closing 65 on the course known as the “Green Monster” to become a DP World Tour champion.

In a tournament reduced to 54 holes which saw the return of fans following the Covid-19 pandemic, Armitage made six birdies and an eagle in 14 holes to win by two shots.

After years of plying his trade between the EuroPro Tour and Challenge Tour, the then 33-year-old tasted victory in just his third full season on the DP World Tour.

In his immediate post-round interview, Armitage, who left school at the age of 13 after his mum passed away with cancer, understandably struggled to hide the emotion at his win.

“I'm an emotional guy, I'm struggling to keep a lid on it here,” he said. “I was just trying to breathe and be calm, not touch my phone because that will be going berserk.

“But then you start thinking about everybody at home like my fiancée. 20 years ago I lost my mum and I've dreamt about this since that day, being a winner, and you have days where you think it might not happen but I just stuck at it.

“Today is a great day and I'm sure she would be proud, and everybody in my team that's helped me – this one's for me.”

There was another story of perseverance three years earlier in 2018 when Richard McEvoy claimed his first DP World Tour win in his 285th start since turning professional in 2001.

During that time, he made 12 trips to the Qualifying School, enjoying success on six occasions as he flipped between the DP World Tour and Challenge Tour.

But in his greatest achievement to date, the then 39-year-old – a former Walker Cup team-mate of Luke Donald – held off a stellar field, including Masters champion Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau among others, with a clutch 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd green sealing victory.

The victory came during a period of good form for McEvoy, who a week earlier had won his third Challenge Tour title at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge and before that won a pro-am at Queenwood which featured stars like Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Adam Scott.

“It’s incredible,” McEvoy said. “I’ve waited a long time, 17 years as a pro on and off the tour. I’m absolutely over the moon.

“I just had to carry on believing until that last putt. I kept thinking seize the day, seize the day a couple of times today to give myself a little kick and I certainly did that on the last.”

The run of recent English winners began in 2017 when Jordan Smith sealed his first DP World Tour title in his rookie campaign.

After both he and defending champion Alexander Levy finished at 13 under, Smith prevented the Frenchman becoming the first repeat winner in more than 15 years as he won on the second play-off hole.

It continued a remarkable rise for Smith who had topped the season-long rankings on both the Challenge Tour and EuroPro Tour in his previous two seasons.

“It's been nerve-wracking at times but I've really enjoyed it,” the then 24-year-old Smith said. "It's all a bit surreal.”

Ahead of this year’s milestone 40th anniversary edition, could we see another breakthrough act?

Jordan Smith with the Porsche European Open trophy

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