Golf: Chris Doak claims first title after play-off
CHRIS Doak claimed the first European Challenge Tour title of his career after he emerged victorious on the third hole of a tense play-off, beating Tim Sluiter and thereby securing his European Tour status for 2013.
The Scotsman’s win came courtesy of a 3ft putt for a third successive par on the 18th after his Dutch counterpart had missed an eight-footer for par following a wayward drive.
Doak had missed an opportunity to take the title outright at the end of regular play, but missed a short putt at the 18th to record his only bogey of the day and sign for a five under par round of 66.
Sluiter had already come in an hour earlier after a stunning eight under par final round of 63 launched him into the clubhouse lead on 13 under par – a lead which he barely believed he would hold on to when overnight leader Lloyd Saltman stepped into the 17th tee a shot clear on 14 under, having avoided a single bogey all day.
But the Edinburgh man dropped a shot each on the final two holes to miss out on the chance of a play-off, with Doak left to fly the Scottish flag.
The two players were neck and neck on the first play-off hole, both parring the par four 18th after missing equidistant birdie putts of around 12ft, and, when they played the same hole again, Doak had another opportunity to claim victory but missed a ten-footer for birdie and so they returned to the tee.
Once again, Doak was the more solid and although his drive found the rough just left of the fairway, Sluiter’s wild tee shot meant he had trees blocking his route to the green and he was forced to chip out to the fairway. The Dutchman’s third shot fell to within 8ft before Doak rolled his birdie putt 3ft short, and when Sluiter slid his par putt wide of the hole, Doak was left with the simplest of putts to secure his first win on the European circuit.
“I’m still in game mode almost,” said Doak, after claiming the £25,600 winner’s prize. “I feel like I have another hole to play so it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It’s great to have a first win. I feel like it has been coming for a while and finally it is here.”
The Greenock man moved from 20th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings to ninth, guaranteeing him a card for the European Tour next year.
“It’ll be great to be back on The European Tour,” he said. “There are still three tournaments to go this season, though, so I will just try to climb up the rankings as high as I can. I have been more consistent this year. I put it down to the coaching I’ve been getting from Bob Torrance and also I’m mentally stronger than ever.”
Sluiter was disappointed not to have claimed his first Challenge Tour title, but focussed on the positives having started the final day five shots off the lead.
“I was happy to get into the play-off in the first place,” said the 23-year-old. “Well done to Chris, making three pars in the play-off, and I just got unlucky with the lie even though it was a poor shot from the tee. I suppose tiredness came into it, but it was just nice to have a chance.”
Joachim B Hansen, meanwhile, secured his European Tour card for the 2013 season after matching playing partner Sluiter’s round of 63 to finish tied for third on 12 under.
He was joined in third place by Saltman, who signed for a two under par 69, and Spaniard Jordi Garcia Pinto, who finished with a six under par final round of 65.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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