Ross McGowan returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in four years as he clinched a wire-to-wire victory at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge.
The Englishman’s last win came on the Sunshine Tour in 2015 and following rounds of 66-66-66-68 for an 18 under par total he secured a four-stroke triumph and his third European Challenge Tour title.
After sharing the lead at the end of the opening round, the 37-year-old broke away to take control at Kaskáda Golf Resort, holding a two-shot advantage ahead of the final day. He quickly extended his lead on Sunday with consecutive birdies on the fourth and fifth holes, reaching the turn bogey-free as he surged toward the title in Brno.
His third gain of the day came at the par four 13th to stretch the lead to three shots, and even when the 2009 Madrid Masters champion made a bogey on the 16th, he gained it back on the following hole.
With his closest rival Ricardo Santos dropping a shot on the last, McGowan, who finished second and third in the 2015 and 2014 D+D REAL Czech Challenge events, respectively, calmly two-putted for par to claim his first win in Europe for ten years.
“I played a couple of the events at the course in Dříteč and finished second and third there, so it’s nice to go one better and win the tournament,” he said.
“It was a strange day because no one was really making a charge at me and I was ticking along, hitting fairways and greens. I was expecting someone to have a few birdies out there, but the pins were tough. I kept hitting it to within 15-20 feet, two putting for par, and then moving on.
“At 15 I was fairly confident the title was mine. I laid up and then hit a nice sand wedge into eight feet and unfortunately missed the birdie putt, but I was hitting good putts all day, which was important.
“With a lot more Challenge Tour tournaments even prize money, winning is really key and hopefully I can sneak another one or two by the end of the year.”
Portugal’s Santos carded a round of 68, three under par, to finish in second place, four shots behind McGowan. While Adrian Meronk also signed for a round of 68 to sit a further stroke back with Cormac Sharvin a stroke off the Pole after his five under par round of 66 saw him advanced up the leaderboard to claim fourth place.
The Englishman’s victory sees him leap up the Challenge Tour Rankings from 127th to third position, while Santos also moves into the top ten, jumping to seventh from 64th.