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Portugal’s first winner: José-Filipe Lima 

Portugal’s first winner: José-Filipe Lima 

It is not every day that you get struck by a stray ball and consider withdrawing from a tournament before going on to win it, but that is exactly what happened to José-Filipe Lima as he kick started his career with back to back Challenge Tour victories.

Jose-Filipe Lima

The year was 2004 and Lima had turned professional just two years prior when he teed it up at the Segura Viudas Challenge de España. 

Going along nicely on three under par during the first round, Lima was preparing to hit his tee shot on the 17th hole when someone in the group behind hit a three wood and the ball struck him on the back of the leg. 

In severe pain and struggling to play, Lima double bogeyed the final two holes to post a one over par opening round - and day two did not start much better. 

He was one under par and due to miss the cut as he stood on the 15th tee, but he produced a stunning closing spell of four consecutive birdies to make the cut on the number. 

A second successive five under par round of 67 followed on Saturday to put the Portuguese in position for a respectable finish, but what unfolded on Sunday seemed unimaginable earlier in the week. 

Lima posted another round of 67 to set the clubhouse target at 14 under par and had to wait more than two hours for the remaining groups to finish as Alessandro Napoleoni’s closing round of 73 meant the duo would contest a play-off for the title. 

“I was super relaxed,” he said. “I played quite early in the morning and I was just relaxing in the clubhouse waiting for the bad weather to arrive. 

“The only thing I remember from the play-off was I had a nine-foot putt for eagle on the par five 18th, which was the first play-off hole and Alessandro was playing seven or eight, so it was quite a relaxing moment for me.

“The biggest thing for me was that win earned me a place in Saint-Omer the following week.”

Lima had become Portugal’s first Challenge Tour winner with victory in Spain, but what happened next was life-changing for the Portuguese who was born in Versailles, France. 

The Aa Saint Omer Open was a dual ranking Challenge Tour and European Tour event and a sensational final round of 66 secured Lima back-to-back wins and a full European Tour card in the process. 

“I was the first winner for Portugal on the Challenge Tour and to win again the next week and jump onto the European Tour was amazing and actually that started my career,” he said. 

“This win started everything and I was then on the European Tour for six years. It was one of the most important weeks of my career.”

Lima has since won three times on the Challenge Tour – most recently at the 2019 Vierumäki Finnish Challenge – and finished 20th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings last year.

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