Stephen Browne kept his hopes of winning back his European Tour card alive when he claimed a dramatic runner up finish in the Toscana Open Italian Federation Cup in Italy.
The Dubliner needed to finish at least second on his own to win a place at next week’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, where and elite 45-man field contest a prize fund of €250,000 as the battle for the 20 available European Tour cards reaches its annual nail-biting conclusion.
And he did that in dramatic style during a final round that was hugely affected by biting cold and stormy winds, posting a three under par 68 that included a birdie-birdie finish to post an 11 under par 273 aggregate to post the clubhouse lead with just two matches left on the golf course.
Of the six men still to finish, two were ahead of Browne as they played the last hole – eventual champion Mikael Lundberg of Sweden and Finland’s Toni Karjalainen.
It was Karjalainen who would put the seal on Browne’s fantastic day as he ran up a triple bogey at the 18th hole to leave Browne in second place on his own at the Florentine venue.
The Hermitage player won €15,400 to climb 34 places on the Rankings, from 71st to 37th, securing his place at the last event of the season.
“This is unbelievable,” said Browne as the news was broken to him. “Obviously Toni has let me in with his triple bogey at the last but I did I couldn’t have done anymore and made some huge putts coming down the stretch. In fact I made crucial putts on the last five greens so I feel like I deserve to finish second and get to the Grand Final.”
Browne will be joined in the Grand Final in southern Italy by Glasson’s Colm Moriarty but Ireland’s World Cup pairing Gareth Maybin and Michael Hoey failed to make the top 45 in the rankings.
Hoey missed the cut in Italy while Maybin’s share of 13th place near Florence left him just outside the qualifiers.