Penge secures maiden Challenge Tour victory as McElroy finishes inside the top-25

Conor Cantwell

Marco Penge (Image: Getty Images)

Marco Penge’s final round of 70 was enough to secure victory at the Challenge Tour’s Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos, as the Englishman finished with a score of -16 and a four-shot cushion at the top of the leaderboard.

Dermot McElroy was the best of the Irish players but he couldn’t break into the top-20 finishers as he recorded a final round of 73, leaving the Northern Irishman tied for 27th on six-under-par.

McElroy finished the tournament with a final round of one-over-par, following up his narrow playoff loss last week with a solid showing in Portugal as low scores seemed harder to come by across the field.


Conor Purcell completed his final round, like McElroy, with a score of 73 which meant that he finished tied for 31st on four-under-par, while Jonathan Yates made up the Irish contingent with a tournament score of one-over-par and a share of 56th.

Marco Penge had very much been the bridesmaid and not the bride throughout his opening three rounds of the tournament, finishing behind the clubhouse leader on three consecutive days by the narrowest of margins.

The Englishman would have known that if he managed to shoot below 70, as he did on his three previous rounds – that he would have a great chance of claiming the top spot.

His day began with a bogey on the third but he would atone for this slow start with back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh, sending him into the back nine on one-under-par.

Another birdie on the 10th was the perfect tonic but he would give that back midway through the back nine with a bogey on the 15th. A birdie on the 17th sent Penge onto two-under-par for the day and he would finish with this score to end the tournament on -16 overall.

Although Penge didn’t shoot below 70, his playing partners and nearest competitors Andrew Wilson and Mateusz Gradecki both finished the day over par, leaving the opportunity for Penge to snatch the Challenge Tour win on the final day.

Speaking after his final round, Penge was overwhelmed by his maiden victory on the Challenge Tour and a memorable month all around after the Englishman competed at the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

“I don’t think I realise what I’ve just achieved,” he said. “I’m absolutely buzzing. I feel like my game has been trending in the right direction for quite a while.

“When I played in The Open last year, I was so nervous and really struggled mentally,” he added. “This year I missed the cut but I came off and was so pleased with how I managed myself, and that helped me here today.

“I’ve been working really hard with my coach on the mental side of the game. Golf is a constant battle and you think all sorts when you’re in the position to win, but to actually do it is special.”

The Challenge Tour returns next week with the Swiss Challenge at Golf Saint Apollinaire, Folgensbourg (21st – 24th September.)

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