José-Filipe Lima carded a spectacular final round of six under par 66 to secure his first win of the season at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.
The Portuguese player, who has not won on the European Challenge Tour in over three years, started the day five strokes back of leader Rikard Karlberg, but covered his opening nine holes in 31 shots to put himself in the mix for his fifth European Challenge Tour title.
Amongst a packed leaderboard, Lima played steady golf down the stretch and birdied his 72nd hole to take the lead for the first time all week—setting the clubhouse target on 14 under par.
The 37-year-old ultimately finished one shot clear of South African Bryce Easton, who narrowly missed a 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a play-off.
‘’I was not expecting that,’’ Lima said. ‘’I knew I was playing well, but I didn’t think too much about the lead until the final hole.
“To shoot 66 on a course like this is always a good score, and I thought that if I could make a birdie on the final hole then perhaps, I had a chance to have a good week.
‘’I hit two big shots down 18. To be honest I didn’t know it was possible to reach that green in two.
“This win is going to give me some confidence heading into the rest of the year after what has been quite a difficult start to the season. First though, I’m going to enjoy the moment.’’
The win continues a return to form for Lima, who kick-started his season with a tied-second place finish at the Euram Bank Open in Austria two weeks ago.
Victory in Finland also moves the former European Tour winner to eighth on the Challenge Tour Rankings, as he now puts one of the fifteen European Tour cards available at the end of the season in his sights.
Local star Roope Kakko, who was paired in the last grouping for the final round, drew sizable crowd support as he battled to finish in third place alongside Frenchman Joël Stalter and Euram Bank Open winner Calum Hill.
Lima, and the Challenge Tour, will now head to the Made in Denmark Challenge - Presented by FREJA, which will represent a departure from the norm, as it begins on a Wednesday, running from August 7-10.