Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey had to endure a day of frustration as he was overtaken at the top of the leaderboard at the Dutch Fututres presented by Royal Bank of Scotland, eventually finishing in a tie for sixth place.
The Belfast 29 year old had carved out a one-stroke lead going into the final round of the European Challenge Tour event at the Golf club Houtrak in Holland, but he could do nothing to stop the irresistible duo of Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl and Holland’s Taco Remkes.
Respective final round scores of 65 and 66 left Huldahl and Remkes tied on 13 under par 265 aggregates before the Dutchman delighted his home crowd by producing a birdie four at the first extra play-off hole to secure his second victory of the season.
Hoey final round of level par 72 saw him finish the week on ten under. His sixth place finish was worth €4088 and moved him up to spots on the Challenge Tour Rankings, to 29th place. Hoey has three events of the season remaining to break into the all-important top 20 to guarantee a European Tour card for next season.
Remkes completed the kind of afternoon that you would normally only find in a Hollywood script as he rampaged through the field to win the tite.
Playing in his native land, at his home golf club in front of hundreds of friends, family and fellow Members of the Golf Club Houtrak, the 23 year old produced a spell-binding performance over the closing stages, covering his last ten holes in seven under par – including a brilliant eagle three on the 18th – to card a final round of six under par 66 and tie Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl at the top of the clubhouse leaderboard on 13 under.
That meant both men were forced to go head-to-head in a sudden-death play-off, with Remkes striking immediately with a birdie four at the par five 18th hole to secure the €22,400 first prize, and his second Challenge Tour victory, following his success at the Scottish Challenge earlier in the year.
“Winning in your home country, on your home course…..well you can’t ask for more than that,” smiled Remkes after receiving his trophy and cheque for €22,400 that propelled him from 11th to sixth on the Challenge Tour Rankings.
With Huldahl playing ahead of him, Remkes knew he needed to conjure a magical finish to his final round to have a chance of victory.
A chip-in birdie on the ninth hole was the first sign that it was to be a fateful day for the young Dutchman, after which he began devouring the back nine with birdies on the tenth, 13th 14th and 15th holes.
“I knew that I needed to do something special on the back nine and by the time I got to the 18th I knew that I needed an eagle to tie Jeppe who was in the clubhouse on 13 under. I had birdied 13, 14 and 15 which are some of the toughest holes on the course so I knew I had a chance.
“The 18th was amazing. I had to make that eagle putt to have a chance of a play-off. It wasn’t an easy putt – it was downhill and left to right but I just had a feeling that I was going to make it. It went straight in the middle and there must have been about 400 people around the green going crazy, it was amazing.”
And so the two men went back to the 18th tee to determine a winner. Huldahl found the bunker with his approach to the par five 18th green, leaving a very difficult up and down. Remkes left his six iron approach short before chipping to five feet for birdie. Huldahl had to splash out of the sand and carry his ball to the top tier, but it came up short and when the Dane missed his birdie putt, Remkes knew it was his time.
“I knew that was my chance,” said the Dutchman, “It wasn’t an easy putt but I felt I could make that one too, and when it went in it was just an amazing feeling. I think there will be a few beers and some champagne in the clubhouse with my friends and family tonight.”
England’s Marcus Higley took third place on 12 under par after a final round 66, with the English duo of Chris Gane and Matthew Morris a shot further back in a tie for fourth. But the day belonged to Remkes, who played the starring role in this blockbusting final round dream.