Grant takes second despite cold putter

A smiling Stephen Grant got a bottle of bubbly for his efforts at Golf de Rebetz in Chaumont-en-Vexin north of Paris. Stephen Grant kicked off his 2013 Alps Tour campaign with a confidence-boosting runner up finish in the Open International de Rebetz near Paris.

But while he was far form being despondent about finishing two strokes behind Spain’s Borja Etchart (69) after a closing 71, the Birr golfer knows he needs to improve on the greens if he’s to realise his dream of making it onto one of the world’s major tours. Scores

Quite apart from the end of season European Tour Q-School, the 36-year old can earn his spot on the Challenge Tour if he finishes the season inside the top five on the Alps Tour money list - and he’s already fifth.

Yet he knows that he must improve his putting after a frustrating week that saw him sandwich a course record 65 between a brace of 71s.    

“I made nothing today and I missed twice from three feet,” Grant told the Alps Tour website after finishing two behind maiden winner Etchart on 12 under. “I literally made one putt outside eight feet in all three rounds. So other than that it’s pretty good.

“I’ve always known I’ve got to improve my putting. Hopefully I’ll get a hot week soon,” he added.

Etchart exchanged the lead with Grant on the front nine, but as the wind picked up on the back nine he streaked clear of the eventual runner-up with five birdies in seven holes for a 54-hole total of 14-under to clinch his first Alps Tour title.

Overnight leader Jesus Legarrea (78) began his day with a nightmare double-bogey on the par-five first after his drive found the trees and rolled into a hole, however there was little the field could do to keep up with the relentless Etchart, who began the back nine with three straight birdies and hit the shot of the day at the par-three 16th for a tap-in two.

Ballyliffin’s Brendan McCarroll got to within two shots of Echardt and Grant at one stage but dropped three shots in his last seven holes as he carded a one under 72 to finish joint seventh on seven under.

Grant earned 3,940 points for his efforts to move into the all-important top five at fifth on the Alps Tour Order of Merit with McCarroll 29th.

Grant and defending champion McCarroll will tee it up in Gosser Open in Austria from May 17-19 with Richard Kipatrick No 1 on the reserve list.