McElroy best of the Irish with closing 69 as Manassero rules in Copenhagen

Mark McGowan

Matteo Manassero poses with the trophy (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)

Dermot McElroy signed off with a three-under 69 at the Copenhagen Challenge presented by Ejner Hessel to end the week tied for 14th as Matteo Manassero notched his first European circuit victory in a decade.

Starting the day tied with Stuart Grehan in 22nd at level-par, McElroy birdied three on the spin from four through six before bogeying the ninth to cover the front side in -2. He’d begin the back nine with another bogey-five, but birdies at 13, 14 and 18 were offset by just the one dropped shot at 15 and he’d record his best finish of the season on the Challenge Tour.

Grehan, playing two groups behind McElroy, would similarly birdie three on the spin on the outward nine, through his would come at three, four and five before dropping a shot at eight to remain tied with McElroy at halfway.


Needing a top-10 finish to play his way into next week’s Challenge Tour event in Prague, the Tullamore man who saw his home course record beaten by younger brother Matthew yesterday, couldn’t get any momentum going on the back nine and bogeys at 12, 15 and 16 against bridies at 13 and 18 saw him sign for a one-under 71 and a tie for 23rd.

Niall Kearney’s level-par round tied his best score of the week and saw him climb five places to 60th, trading places with Paul Dunne who finished out the week with a closing 76.

Matteo Manassero returned to the winner’s circle on the weekend of the ten-year anniversary of his BMW PGA Championship victory, with his maiden European Challenge Tour win.

The Italian, a four-time DP World Tour winner and the youngest player to win three times on Tour, shot a bogey-free final round 66 to claim a one-shot victory at 12 under par for his first win on the Challenge Tour and his first title since winning the 2020 Toscana Open on the Alps Tour.

The 30-year-old started the day six shots behind overnight leader Matias Honkala but carded a flawless final round six under par, including a three-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to claim his first European Tour group sanctioned victory since his heroics at Wentworth in 2013.

“There are a lot of emotions,” he said. “It has been ten years now since I won on Tour so I guess May is a good time of the year for me.

“My wife never caddies for me but this week she was here, so it’s been the perfect week and as good as any other I’ve ever had.

“I’m ten years older. I’ve had a lot of down periods during those ten years but I’m still here and now I’m holding the trophy, which means I’ve done a lot of good things as well in that period of time. That’s all I’m focussing on now. In the past maybe I didn’t enjoy enough of the good times, but I definitely will now.

“I came into this week with doubts about my game and I wasn’t feeling great. This golf course isn’t a course that you can afford not to be feeling great but sometimes you grind, and it doesn’t happen and sometimes all of a sudden it clicks.

“Golf is a strange and hard to understand at times, and probably we shouldn’t try too hard to understand it.”

Manassero made a strong start to his day with back-to-back birdies from the second hole before another gain ahead of the turn at the eighth. With Honkala dropping back and South African teenager Casey Jarvis also picking up shots, Manassero was in a three-way share of the lead.

However, he rose to the top with birdies at the 14th and 15th before holing a three-foot birdie putt at 18 to be crowned champion at Royal Golf Club by one stroke ahead of Jarvis.


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