Stuart Manley marched to his maiden European Challenge Tour title at the Finnish Challenge as a clinical final day performance earned him a three-under-par 69 and a two-shot victory at Kytäjä Golf, in Hyvinkää near Helsinki.
The Welshman has been a regular on both The European Tour and Challenge Tour since 2004 and has let chances slip before, but he made no mistake this time after bouncing back from a bogey on the first hole for a nerveless performance.
A birdie at the opening par five, the third hole, calmed his nerves before finding the form that produced 18 birdies, an eagle and just two bogeys in the opening three rounds. Manley picked up two more shots at the fifth and seventh holes to reach the turn in two under and he extended his overnight lead from two shots to three thanks to a birdie at the par 5 12th.
From there on in, it was a textbook performance in closing out a tournament from the Aberdare man and he clinched back to back birdies at the reachable par five 12th and the par four 13th to stroll to victory. He was even afforded the luxury of a bogey at the last before finishing on 21 under and picking up the €27,200 cheque. “I’m just delighted to be honest,” said Manley. “It’s relief too. I used up a lot of energy today. It was tough because I didn’t have my A-game but I got the ball around well and positioned it well, didn’t take any risky shots and putted pretty solidly again.”
José-Filipe Lima was the closest to catching Manley and Jamie McLeary was top Scot, closing with a 61 to finish six shots behind Manley in a share of fifth.