Jonathan Yates blasted his best round in professional golf to date to sign off on an incredibly encouraging trip to the Alps Tour with an 11-under par 61 at the Alps de Las Castillas.
The Naas star fired a flawless nine birdies and an eagle to bolt inside the top-10 at 21-under par in a week where scoring was off the charts from day one of the 54-hole event.
“It was a crazy week for scoring,” reflected Yates who made the 36-hole mark on the number at a whopping minus-10. “Obviously the course isn’t hard but at nearly 7,000 yards, it’s no gimme either.
“The minus-10 cut was beyond belief. I never, ever, ever saw that coming. There was talk prior to the tournament that four-under would be a good cut and with good weather maybe 18-under winning and as it turned out, it was bad weather the first day, not great the second day and lovely the third and it was 28-under and 10-under! The standard is just so high.”
For Yates’ part, his 61 was the low round of a final day that saw Frenchman Frederic Lacroix collect the title with a jaw-dropping 28-under par 54-hole total and while victory was never within the Kildare man’s sights, Yates had plenty to be proud of as his work off the course in recent times began to pay dividends on it.
“Personally it’s been a great week,” he added. “I was delighted to make the cut on the mark but today [Saturday] I was absolutely flawless tee-to-green. There was lots of really good approach play and I tidied up from eight feet and in so I really enjoyed it.
“It was my lowest score in tournament golf. I’d done a lot of work on my mental game and my pre-shot routine and I really nailed that this week. I was probably most proud of it in the first round when I stuck at it more so than anywhere else and it really shone through. I’ll just try to build on it now.”
In the end it was rookie Lacroix who took victory at Golf de Valdeluz by four from his closest competitor – local hero Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez.
Lacroix, 24, debuted last February on the professional stage by winning the first tournament of the season, Ein Bay Open in Egypt. After some inconsistent results in the following tournaments – two missed cuts, two 25th positions and one 12th – he felt that his game was back on track, thanks to a new driver which gave him the confidence he had lost somehow.
“In a course like this, you know that you need to go low, because your competitors will make a lot of birdies, but at the same time you also know that you cannot force birdies, you just have to be patient and focussed,” said Lacroix, showing a high rate of maturity both in his game and in his attitude.
“On the first tee this morning my expectations were for winning, of course. I was here to win, I felt it could be possible again because my game was good this week, and when you play well, you have to win.”
Unfortunately Conor O’Rourke [-9], David Carey [-8], Stephen Grant [-2] and Simon Bryan [-1] all fell victim to the 36-hole cut.
Full Scoring HERE