Kinsale’s John Murphy will be disappointed with his finish at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge but his tied-34th result was still another sign of progress on the Challenge Tour.
The 23-year-old was on a run of four consecutive missed cuts coming into last week’s Scottish Challenge, but back-to-back weekend appearances has him moving in the right direction.
There will be a degree of frustration as to how his week at Golf & Spa Kunětická Hora ended, though, Murphy having started the day inside the top-20 and had maintained that position thanks to three birdies and one bogey in his first 13 holes.
But a poor finish saw him card bogeys at the 14th, 16th and 18th on his way back to the clubhouse, with a one-over 71 dropping him back to three-under-par for the tournament and into a share of 34th.
It’s still an improvement on his previous results for the Kinsale man, but Murphy will have mixed emotions coming away from the event as he looks to use this as a springboard moving forward into the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, a play-off was needed to separate Nicolai Kristensen and Ugo Coussaud to determine the champion, and it was the former who triumphed on the first extra hole to lift his first Challenge Tour title.
The pair finished tied at the top on 14-under-par, Kristensen first in the clubhouse after a clean, bogey-free four-under 66, and he was matched by France’s Coussaud who signed for three birdies and just one bogey in a 68.
And it would be the Dane who would get the job done at the first time of asking, a fine 20-foot birdie putt finding the bottom of the cup after Coussaud had left his three-feet short to secure the silverware.
“I feel amazing,” he said. “It was almost a relief because I’ve been close a few times but this time I took it and I owned it.
“The win means a lot. It is a big step towards my main goal of being inside the top 20 for the season, and I know how important it is – I’m proud of myself.
“Ugo was striking the ball very well and he doesn’t miss many fairways. The wind was a bit more challenging today compared to yesterday. I knew he wouldn’t make too many bogeys out there, so I had to keep my own game plan going and I did that.
“I was climbing into his lead all the way, but he had a fantastic start. I kept telling myself ‘go get it, go get it’ and I just kept pushing myself.
“It was my first play-off, ever. We’d finished 18 before and I made a small adjustment off the tee. It was a lovely putt to finish. I hit a good nine iron, but it didn’t draw as much as I hoped, but it had a good distance, and the putt was almost straight just a touch left to right.”