Robin Sciot-Siegrist came through 30 holes of golf – plus a shootout play-off hole – to claim a maiden European Challenge Tour title at the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf.
Irish player Cormac Sharvin was the only one in the new final Shootout Sunday format field having it made it into the top 24 players with a total score of 206 which was only 4 shots off top spot but he was defeated in the first round of round robin 6 hole matches by Ricardo Santos who got to the quarter finals. Damien McGrane (210), Kevin Phelan & Michale Hoey (211), Neil O’Briain (212) and Simon Thornton (214) were the next best placed Irish players having made the 36 hole cut.
And it was a dramatic final day, nicknamed ‘Shootout Sunday,’ were a series of six hole head-to-head stroke play matches, with the left-handed Sciot-Siegrist coming through five rounds to win, ultimately defeating Alessandro Tadini by two strokes in the final at Galgorm Castle.
The Frenchman – whose mother hails from Dublin, further endearing him to the crowds – now moves up to eighth place in the Road to Oman Rankings and he was delighted to have made this breakthrough just a year after he turned professional.
“It’s amazing,” said the 23 year old. “It’s my first full season as a pro so I am so happy because I’ve been working really hard this winter and holding this trophy, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s just pure joy.
“The format is great. Six holes, you have to be really in it from the very beginning, you don’t have a chance to make any mistakes, and it’s great to change the format from what we usually play and I really enjoyed it.
“It was a tough week because five rounds of six holes, a lot of great players, I’m just really proud because I’ve been working really hard for it and now I have a week’s break, now it will be a good break too.
“I played seven tournaments last year on the Challenge Tour last year so, even though this is my first full year, I knew what the level was. Winning was something that was in my goals so I’m really happy to have done that – it’s obviously difficult, but it feels really good.
“I thought it was a fun event and I hope that in the future it will happen again – it’s unbelievable how many people are here this week, everything is full, the grandstands, it’s incredible how these crowds come out in Northern Ireland.”
Sciot-Siegrist’s golf was different class on a day of relentless drama in front of packed grandstands in Ballymena, with more than 55,000 people having registered for tickets in a record-breaking event with an attendance of 43,495 over the week.
He beat compatriot Thomas Linard in the first round before taking down Tom Murray – who had been seeded into the second round – with a phenomenal eagle on the final hole, overturning a one-shot deficit in the process.
A nervy quarter-final against Lukas Nemecz, where his one over par total for six holes was one shot better than his opponent, led to a dramatic semi-final against Christian Braeunig.
Sciot-Siegrist led by one playing the last hole before his German opponent chipped in for eagle, leaving the eventual winner with a nerve-jangling birdie putt to force an extra hole.
He duly holed it and, on the short play-off hole, put his tee shot to six foot for a birdie putt he would make; Braeunig’s tee shot was even closer but his putt lipped out and Sciot-Siegrist advanced.
The champion fittingly saved his best golf for the final, a high quality contest against Tadini, who had beaten Daan Huizing, Matthias Schwab and Bradley Neil to reach the final two.
Sciot-Siegrist had makeable birdie putts on five of the six holes, converting three of them, including on the final hole, for a deserved victory.
Braeunig beat Neil for a career-best finish of third with Nemecz fifth, Ross Kellett sixth, Schwab seventh and Ricardo Santos – who came from behind in his second round match to win courtesy of an outrageous albatross on the final hole – completing the top eight.