French amateur Romain Langasque finished second behind Swede Sebastian Soderberg in the Barclays Kenya Open but there were also some good Irish performances with Gary Hurley and Gavin Moynihan clinching Top 20 finishes in Nairobi.
As Langasque shot 65 to finish on 15 under, Soderberg surged to a maiden European Challenge Tour victory by closing with a five under 67 to win by three on 18 under.
Soderberg now takes an early lead in the Road to Oman Rankings after earning 35,200 points and the 25 year old has already fulfilled one of his season aims by winning for the first time.
Hurley shot 69 and Moynihan a five under 67 to leave them tied 19th on seven under, earning €2,477 each while Ruaidhri McGee (70) was 33rd on four under and Kevin Phelan (72) 38th on three under.
Langasque, playing in his penultimate event as an amateur before he turns professional after competing the Masters, was the first player to take advantage of new regulations allowing amateurs to earn Road to Oman Ranking points.Final scores — 270 S Soderberg (Swe) 67 68 68 67; 273 R Langasque (am) (Fra) 69 70 69 65; 274 B Ritthammer (Ger) 71 65 73 65; 277 S Heisele (Ger) 72 69 65 71, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 70 71 68 68, D Frittelli (RSA) 71 69 69 68, E Kofstad (Nor) 73 69 66 69.
Irish — 281 G Moynihan (Irl) 72 71 71 67, G Hurley (Irl) 70 71 71 69; 284 R McGee (Irl) 76 68 70 70; 285 K Phelan (Irl) 72 70 71 72
Williams wins Hilary at Baltray
Amateur golf — Castle's John Williams was the clear winner in the Rabo Direct sponsored Hilary Golf Society outing at County Louth on Sunday.
In benign conditions, the two handicap player shot an excellent, five under par 67, finishing with two birdies to beat Slade Valley' s Terry Lilly by two shots. Third place went to Corrstown's Alan Doherty, who also shot 69.
The gross prize was won by Royal Dublin's Sean Ryan with a fine 71 while the team prize was won by Liam Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin), Eamonn McCartan (Greenore) and Gus Fitzpatrick (Naas) with a 61.
Next outing: Portmarnock GC on Sunday April 10th.
Dunne undone in Delhi
Paul Dunne hit hit just three of 14 fairways as he closed with a six over 78 to finish tied 58th in the Hero Indian Open in New Delhi.
The Greystones man was tied for 20th with a round to go but a bad day off the tee at a tight venue meant he didn't make a birdie until the 18th having made five bogeys and a double to that point.
The former Walker Cup player earned €3,994 as SSP Chawrasia held off India’s number one Anirban Lahiri to secure a dream home victory having finished second on four previous occasions.
It marked an incredible journey for the man who began his career as a caddie in Kolkata and had to borrow a set of golf clubs to compete in the professional ranks.
Now, thanks to his two-stroke victory at the Delhi Golf Club over Lahiri and Korean Jeunghun Wang, Chawrasia has secured a full-time return to the European Tour, won US$276,660 and looks likely to qualify to join Lahiri in representing India at this summer’s Olympics in Rio.
Chawrasia, who had won 14 times in India in his pro career and finished runner-up in his national open four times before Sunday’s final round, relied upon a combination of short game wizardry and a lion’s heart to get over the line with a final round of one under par 71 for a 15 under winning total at the notoriously tricky Delhi Golf Club.
Nowhere was that more evident on the final hole of the tournament when, under pressure from defending champion Lahri to get up and down from the rough from around 70 yards, Chawrasia produced a magnificent a chip to four feet to put the pressure back on his rival. When Lahiri failed to get up and down for birdie on the par five, Chawrasia stepped forward to secure his place in Indian golfing folklore.
Lahiri, who posted a final round 69 while Wang carded a 68, was among the first to congratulate Chawrasia, who will prove a hugely popular winner in India. The 37 year old’s father was a greenkeeper at Royal Calcutta Golf Club, where a young SSP taught himself how to play. He eventually became a caddie and then took a leap of faith to the professional ranks, when had to borrow a set of clubs from a friend when he started competing in 1997.
Almost 20 years on, Chawrasia has been crowned the Hero Indian Open champion after a career-defining performance in Delhi.
Chawrasia said: “It is a very important day for me. I have finished second four times in the Indian Open and every time that happen to me I wondered if I would ever be able to one day be the champion. This year, I came believing I had to win. I knew that I could do it.
"There was a lot of pressure on me on the last hole but I had to say thank God when Anirban missed his birdie putt! Played a great chip there and then when he missed I knew I would win the tournament.
“I think every Indian player looks at this tournament as the biggest. It is our national championship and a huge honour for me. Also, I think I have now qualified for the Olympics and the world cup and all of that was going around in my mind when I was playing today. It was a lot of pressure but I can relax and enjoy it now. My main goal was the Olympics so I am so happy. I am not sure how we will celebrate but I will leave that for my wife to take care of. She is very happy.”
Lahiri said: "This win is huge for him. We were tied for second three years ago, he was second last year and has been second four times at this tournament so it’s great for him to win and lock down the Olympics and everything else that comes with it. I am really pleased for him.”
273 S Chawrasia (Ind) 67 67 68 71; 275 A Lahiri (Ind) 68 71 67 69, J Wang (Kor) 67 74 66 68; 276 A Que (Phi) 70 71 70 65, A Da Silva (Bra) 72 66 69 69; 278 R Khan (Ind) 69 68 69 72, N Thangaraja (Sri) 69 71 68 70, G Havret (Fra) 68 70 71 69, D Im (USA) 65 74 70 69; 279 S Kapur (Ind) 72 67 70 70, J Campillo (Esp) 66 71 71 71, J Quesne (Fra) 70 68 70 71, D Lipsky (USA) 69 67 75 68, R Gangjee (Ind) 69 72 66 72.
Irish — 289 P Dunne (Irl) 74 66 71 78.