Robert Steele showed nerves akin to his name to win the Les Bordes Tour Championship on the 2008 Ivobank PGA EuroPro Tour with a fantastic final round 68 on the daunting Les Bordes course in Loire Valley, France.
Steele (Kenilworth GC) earns £20,000 for the victory and leaps up the Order of Merit into the top five but he had to show terrific resilience on the final two holes when he was held up for a lengthy period for a ruling.
Driving on the penultimate hole with a three shot lead over Nicky Harris, Steele s second into the green fell just short and plugged into the face of a waste area. He had to take a drop onto the edge of the area, where his chip from an awkward lie left him a nervy ten foot putt for bogey which he duly sank. After that drama Steele held his game together superbly, nailing the daunting approach over to the water to the last green and two putting for the par to seal his two-stroke win.
I went down a club and was just a yard off but on a course like this you have to just take the punishment and get on with it, said Steele, explaining the tension on the seventeenth. The chip also didn t come out right but I held my nerve on the putt and gained a solid par at the last.
Steele s victory means he takes the all-important fifth spot on the Order of Merit with the top five players in the list gaining their card for the Challenge Tour. Although it was a last gasp effort from the winner who s winning score of 213 came from rounds of 73, 71 and 69 he says he felt in good shape throughout his 14 events on Tour.
I played well all year really but I ve had a bit of bad luck with a few lip outs pretty much what happened here to be honest, said the 25 year-old, who was 66/1 with Skybet to win the title. I had to hold up under the pressure but I just said to myself what I ve said all year, I m just playing golf here, stick in and all the hard work has paid off.
Steele knew he needed to win here to get into the top five as he was back in 27th position with just under £5,000 Matthew Ford (Marriott Tudor Park) is the unlucky player who misses out in sixth spot by £1417.20.
The winner from Coventry actually had a poor start as he teed-off with Jack Doherty the final pairing sharing the lead on level par along with Colin Roope. Steele bogeyed the first to drop to one over but got his round underway with a 20-footer for birdie at the fourth and another birdie at seven to go out one under. It was on the start of the back nine that he made his move when he birdied 10 and 11 to sit a shot clear at three under.
Harris (Whitefield GC) was the man he was clear of after he d started his round with an eagle. He raced into action with two birdies in the first four holes to move from three over to one under, with another birdie at the tenth closing the gap to one shot.
It looked like being a tight finish but Steele picked up a birdie at 14 to move to four over while on the hole ahead of him, Harris dropped a shot to fall three shots behind on one under. The seventeenth provided Harris with a chance as he had a five-foot putt for birdie but it slipped past as did another chance on the last and he finished with a final round of 68, which was the course record score set by Simon Thornton in Saturday s Pro-Am and matched by Jack Doherty in his second round.
It turned out to be a crucial day for Lloyd Kennedy too, with the Chelmsford GC man shooting a three under par 69 to share third place in the Tour Championship a result which moved him into third position in the money list. He nudged Alan Murray (Greystones GC) into fourth and finish behind runner-up Dale Marmion (Eaton) and 2008 Ivobank PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit winner Noel Fox (MMI).
Aran Wainwright (DP Publicity) also shot 69 to join Kennedy on one under, with the third player tied on that score being Scotland s Graham Gordon (SWM Golf Management). Jack Doherty was unable to improve on his level par and finished in sixth place on two over, one shot ahead of a trio in seventh place led by namesake Sean Doherty (Bury) who finished at three over (219) with Jamie Moul (Stoke by Nayland) and Hendriksen (Fingle Glen GC).
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