Niall Kearney posted an even par round of 72 to bank a share of 14th as Pep Angles claimed an emotional maiden victory on home soil by winning the Andalucía Challenge de Cádiz at Iberostar Real Club de Golf Novo Sancti Petri.
Royal Dublin professional Kearney had co-led at the halfway stage at seven-under par but was unable to repeat the fireworks over the final two rounds with a moving day 76 halting his challenge before he traded three birdies with three bogeys on Sunday to sign for a three-under par tournament tally. It’s an encouraging result for the 32-year old who collected a cheque worth €3,000 though no doubt the overriding emotion will be one of disappointment after looking so good for two rounds in Spain.
It was Spaniard Angles who posted a closing three-under par round of 69 for a 14-under par total, one stroke clear of his final round playing partners Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, his countryman, and England’s Matthew Baldwin, who finished in a tie for second place on 13 under par.
Garcia-Heredia was the overnight leader and he still held a one stroke advantage as Angles made the turn on one under par, two off the lead, but a run of three birdies in a row for the 27-year-old catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard and he subsequently held on for a first European Challenge Tour victory.
“I’ve been down the valley of darkness and I came up a little bit, so I’m very happy,” he said. “What you guys see on the golf course is just the tip of the iceberg.
“I’ve been working on different aspects; mind, soul and body to get here and have the calmness inside of me and be able to perform when I need to. It’s not only reps of golf, it’s everything else, it’s very important. I’m feeling great. I’m feeling first of all grateful, for my team and for the people who make it possible for me to play the game I love. I’m feeling really proud of myself and also for how my intentions and attitude were today.”
The Barcelona native made an important bogey-save on the 17th hole to ensure he had a one-stroke lead with one to play and he reflects on that as a pivotal part of his round.
“I was unaware of what was going on until I saw the leaderboard on 17,” he said. “I had a goal of getting to 18 under and I knew that would do it, so I was focused on that goal and staying patient, but then on 17 I knew I had a two-shot lead.
“I hit a perfect driver and it landed and bounced, which it isn’t supposed to because it’s very wet. I took the aggressive line but it came out of the pines so it went up, hit the tree and then I had a bunker shot from 50 yards. I hit a very good chip and then made a seven-footer, which was really strong. That was very important to come out with a one-shot lead because it felt like I only threw one shot. It was very important.”
The victory means Angles climbs two places on the Road to Mallorca Rankings to second position ahead of next week’s Challenge Tour Grand Final, and overhauling current leader Marcel Schneider is at the forefront of his mind.
“My goal was to win one of these two events and win the whole Rankings. I’m just trying to play my best and see if I can win the Grand Final. I don’t know if he’s too far away, Marcel, but I’ll do my best to win it and see if I can lead the Rankings.”
Spanish amateur Eduard Rousaud finished in fourth place on nine under par, marking the end of an excellent two weeks for the 20-year-old after he finished tied fifth in last week’s Andalucía Challenge de España.
German duo Schneider and Allen John finished in a tie for fifth place on seven under par alongside Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen, while Germany’s Hurly Long finished eighth on six under par.
Denmark’s John Axelsen, Sweden’s Christofer Blomstrand, Austria’s Lukas Nemecz and Spain’s Santiago Tarrio complete the top ten, finishing tied ninth on five under par. With his tie for second place, Garcia-Heredia climbs 142 places on the Road to Mallorca Rankings to 42nd place, earning him a spot in next week’s season-closing event. The top 45 available players will now travel to T-Golf & Country Club, Mallorca, for next week’s Challenge Tour Grand Final, from November 19-22, 2020.
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