Tom McKibbin had to be content with a top-five finish at the B-NL Challenge as he just missed out on a maiden Challenge Tour victory in Belgium.
The 19-year-old mounted a strong push in the final round at Hulencourt in Genappe, but his four-under 68 wasn’t enough to put him atop the leaderboard, finishing three shots off the pace at 17-under.
The win instead went to Germany’s Alexander Knappe, who also fired a final round 68 to overtake the faltering Jeong weon Ko and claim a one-shot win over Mikael Lindberg at 20-under.
McKibbin will still be very pleased with another hugely encouraging performance that saw him end the week tied for fourth and will give him another timely boost in the Road to Mallorca standings.
The Galgorm teen is up to 13th in the Order of Merit and is within touching distance of the top-20 that will earn their DP World Tour cards for next year.
On this occasion, he was just a little too far back to push for top spot in Belgium, his six birdies and two bogeys meaning he wasn’t able to climb enough spots on the final day.
Instead, Knappe soared to his fourth Challenge Tour win as his chip-in eagle at the 10th took him to the top of the leaderboard into a position he would never relinquish, eventually signing for four birdies and two bogeys in a 68 to reach 20-under.
That beat out Lindberg, who closed with a 66 to reach 19-under, and Ko, who would only manage a level-par 72 in his final round to tie McKibbin at 17-under.
“I’m pretty calm right now,” said Knappe, who moves top of the Road to Mallorca standings.
“I’m so happy but it’s hard to describe because I’m still in the zone. It was great to get my first win at the start of the year in South Africa because I have put in so much hard work before this season.
“I was just hanging in there today. I missed a couple of short putts but overall played some solid golf. I had a little bit of luck on hole ten where I chipped in for eagle because it was probably running about ten feet past and off the green if it didn’t hit the flagstick. It was definitely my day.”
Meanwhile, Kinsale’s John Murphy ended his week with a two-under 70 to end the tournament at 12-under-par and in a share of 24th, while Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell fired a 71 to finish tied-39th at 10-under.
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