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.
The 2017 Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf champion Robin Sciot-Siegrist from France with the trophy alongside Modest! Golf directors Mark McDonnell Niall Horan (Photo: Matt Mackey/PressEye)
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.