England’s Oliver Fisher finally lived up the hype that accompanied him during his teenage years by capturing the Czech Open by two shots.
Six years after becoming the youngest Walker Cup player in history at the expense of Rory McIlroy, the 22 year old Englishman carded a closing 69 to finish on 13 under par at Prosper Golf Resort and claim his maiden professional win.
Fisher might have made that losing 2005 Walker Cup side at the age of 16 in any case but chairman of selectors Peter McEvoy later confessed that in not picking McIlroy was “probably the low point of my career as a selector.”
The hype surrounding Fisher put him under immense pressure and he even had to go back to the Q-School to retain his card at the end of 2009.
He may yet go on to outshine McIlroy but so far it’s been a long, hard road for a player who missed 20 of his first 21 cuts this season before finishing 35th in Sweden and 45th in last month’s Irish Open.
He said: “Getting your first win is obviously special, but especially as I’ve struggled so far this season. My form has been horrific, but golf’s a funny game.
“I went through a lot of different emotions out there today. I hit it well on the range this morning, so that gave me confidence. I played the front nine really well, then got a bit unlucky on the tenth. After that, the wheels started to fall off a little bit.
“I saw Mika Lundberg was on 12 under coming down the 14th, and 15 is a tricky par three with lots of water. So all sorts of things were going through my head at that stage. I hit the green, but then three-putted. So to sink birdie putts on 16 and 17 was huge, and then I played the 18th very well.
“I really enjoyed it out there today, and I’ve had a lot of fun this week. I’ve played well since Sweden, and played better every week since. I did a lot of good work back home in the two weeks before this event, and it’s paid off. Hopefully this is the start of big things for me.”
A week that started out so promisingly for the Irish ended in disappointment with Damien McGrane the best of the bunch in joint ninth after a closing 72.
The Meath man was only four shots behind leaders Fisher and Lundberg starting the day but he bogeyed the first and ninth to go out in two over before making something of a comeback with birdies at the 10th, 11th and 16th.
He signed off with a bogey at the last, however, and while his putting was not what he would have wanted, he had the consolation of moving up 12 places to 92nd in the Race to Dubai standings.
Shane Lowry, a victim of 36 putts on Saturday, tied for 16th after a 69 that featured three birdies in his last four holes. But Paul McGinley could only manage 23rd place after a good start to his final round.
Just four behind after a birdie at the first, the 44-year old triple bogeyed the seventh and bogeyed the eighth as he signed for a 75. Considering his form this year, he will still be encouraged by his play in the first three rounds.
First round leader Peter Lawrie followed that opening 66 with rounds of 75, 74 and 73 to end up tied for 37th and still outside the top 60 who will qualify for the Dubai World Championship.
Lawrie made six birdies on day one and only could manage only six more over the next three days as his putter went stone cold.
Simon Thornton signed off with a 71 but his share of 58th was worth just €4,425 and he moved up just two places to 188th in the Race to Dubai standings as he bids to win back his tour card.
Lundberg (69) finished second to Fisher to earn €166,660 and move up from 289th to 117th in the money list with Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (66) four shots adrift on nine under.
Joint overnight leader Steven O’Hara tied for fifth after a 75.