Dunne 14th as Wattel wins maiden title

Dunne 14th as Wattel wins maiden title
 SPIJK, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 17:  Romain Wattel of France poses with the trophy after winning on Day Four of the KLM Open at The Dutch on September 17, 2017 in Spijk, Netherlands.  Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

SPIJK, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 17:  Romain Wattel of France poses with the trophy after winning on Day Four of the KLM Open at The Dutch on September 17, 2017 in Spijk, Netherlands.  Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Paul Dunne closed with a second successive 66 to finish tied 14th in the KLM Open but remained 34th in the Race to Dubai standings.

The Greystones native finished on 11-under par, four shots behind maiden winner Romain Wattel of France.

But despite picking up €27,000 to take his season's earnings to €733,908, there was no move up the money list for the 23-year-old.

Pádraig Harrington, who defends his Portugal Masters title this week, is 110th in the Race to Dubai for just six events having closed with a 69 to finish tied 55th on three-under.

Wattel, who had recorded 25 top-ten finishes in his previous 186 events without tasting victory, was in control for much of the final round but survived a late scare when he missed the green with his approach to the last.

He successfully got up and down for par and a closing 69 to win by a shot on 15-under par from fast-finishing, 20-year-old Canadian Austin Connelly.

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat – Wattel’s main challenger for much of the day - found water with his second to the 18th and dropping to 12 under with the subsequent double bogey.

Wattel’s victory was all the more remarkable as he had not finished higher than 24th previously this season and came into the week down at 130th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.

Aphibarnrat held a one-shot lead overnight but Wattel swiftly passed him with three birdies from close range in his first six holes.

French rookie Joël Stalter leapfrogged Wattel when he birdied the eighth and his compatriot’s par putt from eight feet lipped out. 

Stalter’s challenge faded with three bogeys on the back nine but Wattel birdied the tenth and, although he bogeyed the next, a run of pars kept him in contention as others stumbled.

Aphibarnrat briefly led when he birdied the 14th, but he found water at the next and double bogeyed before suffering the same fate at the last as he attempted to put pressure on Wattel by reaching the green at the par-five in two.

Connelly, who tied for 14th in The Open at Royal  Birkdale, had six birdies in a closing 66 to finish second on 14 under, with Stalter, German Sebastian Heisele, English pair Eddie Pepperell and Lee Westwood and South Africans George Coetzee and Justin Walters all tied for third a shot further back.

Romain Wattel

“I feel very good right now. I wasn’t feeling great at the beginning of the week to be honest because I have been playing badly this year. I’m not going to say that everything was perfect this week but my putting was great all week and I just tried to play as smart as I could, and I am obviously delighted with the result.

“I made a great start to the final round, and that really helped to calm me down. I was just trying to focus on releasing my shots because sometimes I can get too tight. But today I was just focusing on the target and I did that well.

“The back nine was more difficult and there was a lot of pressure but I just tried to make the best score I could. And the finish was really tough today so I was honestly just trying to get the ball on the green because I knew I was putting well enough to make pars.

“I have been in contention before and while I had not won before I knew what I had to do; I knew what I had to expect and thankfully this time it was my week. It feels amazing to win for the first time – I am so happy right now.”

Austin Connelly

“I played exceptionally well today and made a lot of putts which is so important in a final round like today because it just takes so much pressure off of you when you are making putts.

“This is a huge result for me. I only had one more event that I was guaranteed to play to try and win my European Tour card but it looks like I might have done it this week. This is my first time being in this position as I am not long in the professional game – I feel very blessed to have finished the way I did.”

Lee Westwood

“I played lovely again today. I might have gone as low as I needed to but this has been a really positive week for me. To be honest this is the best I have played for a couple of years in terms of ball-striking and control so I am delighted with what is my best results of the year. There are a lot of positives to take from that and now I can really look forward to playing in and hosting the British Masters.”

KLM Open, The Dutch (Par 71)

269 R Wattel (Fra) 69 67 64 69,

270 A Connelly (Can) 71 67 66 66,

271 L Westwood (Eng) 70 65 67 69, J Walters (RSA) 72 67 65 67, E Pepperell (Eng) 69 68 69 65, S Heisele (Ger) 66 68 68 69, G Coetzee (RSA) 69 67 68 67, J Stalter (Fra) 65 67 69 70,

272 B Wiesberger (Aut) 66 69 71 66, C Wood (Eng) 70 69 68 65, M Wallace (Eng) 68 68 69 67, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 65 66 73, J Lagergren (Swe) 67 65 70 70,

273 P Dunne (Irl) 74 68 65 66, C Pigem (Esp) 72 67 68 66,

274 J Lima (Por) 70 68 69 67,

275 R Finch (Eng) 66 67 72 70, C Berardo (Fra) 69 72 67 67, M Manassero (Ita) 68 68 68 71,

276 J Scrivener (Aus) 70 68 70 68, D Stewart (Sco) 71 68 70 67, A Björk (Swe) 73 65 73 65, W Besseling (Ned) 70 69 70 67, T Sinnott (Aus) 68 73 68 67,

277 R Ramsay (Sco) 70 72 68 67, W Ormsby (Aus) 74 68 66 69, M Ilonen (Fin) 69 70 68 70, C Hanson (Eng) 68 71 68 70, M Kieffer (Ger) 69 69 72 67, O Fisher (Eng) 72 68 70 67,

278 R Dinwiddie (Eng) 69 69 73 67, S Manley (Wal) 71 68 68 71, W Ashun (Chn) 67 68 71 72, R Fisher (Eng) 73 68 68 69, D Frittelli (RSA) 70 69 69 70, B Evans (Eng) 72 69 67 70, M Carlsson (Swe) 72 68 67 71,

279 D Horsey (Eng) 76 66 68 69, P Hanson (Swe) 70 69 68 72, J Carlsson (Swe) 75 67 67 70, M Pavon (Fra) 68 69 70 72, D Perrier (Fra) 69 70 69 71, T Detry (Bel) 75 66 68 70, F Zanotti (Par) 70 70 67 72, D Huizing (Ned) 69 71 72 67, M Korhonen (Fin) 67 71 70 71, P Angles (Esp) 68 70 73 68,

280 J Campillo (Esp) 76 66 73 65, J Ahlers (RSA) 72 69 73 66, M Albertus (Ned) 69 70 73 68, D Brooks (Eng) 69 71 69 71, F Fritsch (Ger) 71 70 68 71, D Burmester (RSA) 77 65 68 70, A Otaegui (Esp) 71 71 70 68,

281 A Wall (Eng) 70 69 74 68, J Suri (USA) 70 68 71 72, P Widegren (Swe) 68 72 69 72, P Harrington (Irl) 72 70 70 69,

282 M Warren (Sco) 69 67 73 73,

283 R Fox (Nzl) 71 71 71 70, A Chesters (Eng) 70 70 73 70,

284 G Storm (Eng) 70 72 72 70, A Cañizares (Esp) 72 70 71 71, R Bland (Eng) 71 67 70 76,

285 S Brazel (Aus) 73 67 74 71, J Fahrbring (Swe) 69 73 70 73,

286 J Edfors (Swe) 68 74 72 72, P Maddy (Eng) 69 69 75 73,

288 N Fasth (Swe) 69 72 73 74,

289 R Miller (Ned) 73 69 72 75, S Gros (Fra) 75 66 74 74.