Michael Stewart feels 'pure relief' after landing maiden EuroPro Tour win at Leven Links

Michael Stewart landed a popular maiden win on the PGA EuroPro Tour after claiming a three-shot success in the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Leven Links.

Michael Stewart with the trophy after winning the 2022 Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Leven Links
Michael Stewart with the trophy after winning the 2022 Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Leven Links

The 32-year-old Ayrshireman, who’d lost in a play-off at Spey Valley in Aviemore in the first leg of a Scottish double-header a week ago, made no mistake on this occasion on the Fife coast.

Rounding off a polished performance, Stewart signed off with a one-under 69 for a 14-under 196 total, with Northern Ireland’s Dermot McElroy ending up as his closest challenger after a best-of-the-day 66.

“I’m obviously delighted, but, honestly, it is pure relief right now,” said Stewart. “After rolling my putt up stone dead at 17, I looked at the scores and saw that I had a three-shot lead and there’s no better golf hole in the world to have a three-shot lead than the 18th at Leven.”

Stewart, who’d finished runner-up twice this season and also in the same event when it was played at Montrose Links in 2017, started out with a two-shot overnight lead and, though a bogey at the second could have been unsettling, he was soon into his stride.

He birdied the third, seventh and eighth to be out in 32 and turned for home with a three-shot cushion over English duo Nick Watson and Brandon Robinson Thompson.

A bogey at the par-4 11th for the Scot coupled with a Watson birdie at the 14th saw that lead reduced to one with just four holes to play.

However, Stewart suddenly found himself with valuable breathing space when Watson double-bogeyed the 16th then dropped another shot at the next.

“I feel as though a bit of a monkey is off my back now that I’ve got over the line. I’ve been told that I’ve now guaranteed a Challenge Tour a card, which is a great bonus for my good play this season.

Stewart enjoyed a stellar amateur career, winning both the Scottish Boys and Scottish Amateur before also landing the South African Amateur.

He played on a winning Great Britain & Ireland team in the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen, where Jordan Spieth was on a strong US side.

Until now, though, and it’s certainly not been down to a lack of hard work, Stewart has found it difficult to produce his best golf in the professional ranks.

“Pre-Covid, I was close to not doing this anymore due to the financial side of things, having been helped out by family and there’s only so much that people can do,” he admitted. “So I am glad that I didn’t as it feels as though my game is in a fantastic place and I’m really happy.”

His win, worth £12,500, was greeted by a flood of congratulations from fellow players, including his long-time friend, David Law.

“I just try and be good to people,” said Stewart of being a popular person. “I’ve got a lot of good friends in golf and golf has been good to me in that respect. I’ve got a whole load of messages on my phone and I’ve had a few phone calls off players already. I’m just grateful for the support as it does mean a lot to me.”

Sean Lawrie, Paul’s nephew, finished joint-eighth after a closing 69 left him on eight-under.

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