It was not the weekend Niall Kearney hoped for as the 36-hole leader stalled to a share of 12th place at the BMW International Open but the Royal Dublin professional will take a lot positives his week in Germany.
The finish earned Kearney just over €23,000 but more importantly moved him up fourteen spots to 118th on the Race to Dubai standings ahead of this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open where he will look to use home advantage to get closer to securing his 2022 card.
At the top, Viktor Hovland became the first Norwegian winner in European Tour history as he finished two strokes ahead of former World Number One Martin Kaymer to win the BMW International Open.
The 23-year-old started the day with a three-stroke lead, but Kaymer, winner of the BMW International Open in 2008, made a final day charge at Golfclub München Eichenried with an eight under 64 to set the clubhouse target at 17 under par.
Hovland led by two after his third birdie of the day on the 16th, but a dropped shot on the 17th set up a tense finish on the formidable par five 18th hole. However, the Ryder Cup hopeful found the fairway with his tee shot and then the green with a superb three wood, setting up three putts for the victory.
He required just two as he tapped in for birdie and a 19 under par total for his maiden European Tour title, his third worldwide victory since turning professional in 2019.
“That was a long day. Sleeping on the lead you start thinking about winning, but there’s a lot of things that can happen. I didn’t really play very good today, but with a nice six-seven holes, it was good enough and I’m happy to be sitting here with the trophy.
“I’ve really putted good all three rounds (prior), today I didn’t putt as good. I didn’t really hit it that great either with my irons, but I knew I was a couple of shots ahead of the other guys and I knew they had to make a bunch of birdies to catch me. I tried to relax, play smart, not try to force anything and when I did hit good shots, try and make the putt and make a birdie.
“I saw (Martin) was climbing the leaderboard pretty quickly and I saw he was at 16 under for a while. I was at 17 for a while but I knew he had 18 left and was probably going to make a birdie. I couldn’t just make pars in and play simple golf. I still had to get after it and make a couple of birdies. My strategy didn’t change much at all. I still decided to go for it on 16 and still decided to hit it on the green on 18. I knew I had to close this thing out, I couldn’t just roll over.
“I grew up watching mostly the European Tour. There’s a lot of guys who played this week who I grew up watching. It’s cool to be a champion of this Tour, in Germany, in a place that… it’s not in Norway, but it’s close and has some of the same feelings of being home. It’s a huge honour and finally Norway has a win on the European Tour.”
Spaniard Jorge Campillo carded a one under par round to finish third on 15 under, while 2014 Ryder Cup player Victor Dubuisson recorded his best European Tour result since November 2017 as he finished fourth.