Nathan Kimsey pulls off Challenge Tour clean sweep on dramatic day in Mallorca

Steered by a Scot, Englishman Nathan Kimsey pulled off a clean sweep of the 2022 Challenge Tour trophies on a dramatic last day in the Grand Final in Mallorca that saw both the youngest and oldest players in the field secure steps up to the DP World Tour but not Euan Walker.

Nathan Kimsey celebrates with the trophies after winning the Challenge Tour's Rolex Grand Final suported by The R&A at Club de Golf Alcanada and also topping the Road to Mallorca Rankings. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.
Nathan Kimsey celebrates with the trophies after winning the Challenge Tour's Rolex Grand Final suported by The R&A at Club de Golf Alcanada and also topping the Road to Mallorca Rankings. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.

With St Andrews man Alan Tulleth on his bag, Kimsey, a 29-year-old from Hertfordshire, rolled in a monster eagle putt at the 13th at Club de Golf Alcanada overlooking Alcudia Bay as he started to get the scent of a victory in his nostrils and went on to sign off with a two-under-par 70.

Finishing on nine-under, he won by two shots from compatriot John Parry and South African Bryce Easton, with another Englishman, Matthew Baldwin, and French player Jeong weon Ko a further stroke behind in an event sponsored by Rolex and supported by the R&A.

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The win catapulted Kimsey, who had started the week in sixth spot after landing his maiden win on the second-tier circuit in the Le Vaudreuil Challenge in France earlier in the year, to the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings, which saw the top 20 graduate to the main tour.

Englishman celebrates after holing the winning putt in Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A at Club de Golf Alcanada. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.
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He finished ahead of Swiss player Jeremy Freiburghaus and German Alexander Knappe, with 19-year-old McKibbin signing off his season in style with a closing 66 to secure tenth spot and Baldwin surviving a last-hole scare to secure his seat back at the top table at the age of 36 in 19th.

Helped by stiffing his approach at the last, it was also job done for 35-year-old Parry as he jumped into the top 20 along with both Baldwin and Easton at the expense of Pole Mateusz Gradecki, Spaniard Alejandro Del Rey and German Max Schmitt.

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Walker, who had started the season finale sitting 21st, ended up in 24th position, leaving the Troon man feeling a tad “disappointed” but, at the same time, “proud” of his season overall, especially after it didn’t really get up and running until the summer.

He’s hoping to be back for another card crack in 12 months’ time, but, for Kimsey, the start of the next chapter in his career starts when the 2023 campaign gets underway in South Africa at the end of November.

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.Euan Walker lines up a putt in the final round at Club de Golf Alcanada in Alcudia. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.

“It’s great, honestly,” Kimsey told The Scotsman as he savoured the biggest success of his career, picking up a cheque for €87,000 and no less than three trophies. “You play your whole career, working hard and obviously winning doesn’t come often. So to get my first Challenge Tour win in France this year was great and to back it up with another one is just awesome.

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“It’s so competitive. You come in here this week playing against the other best 44 players on tour this year and they are all having great seasons and playing well, so there’s nothing easy about coming here and winning and I’m so proud to get it done.”

On Tulleth, he added: “I had him for a couple of weeks at the end of the season and it’s good to have someone there to keep me calm and focused and helping me through the ups and downs of the round. It’s been really good to have him on the bag.”

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It was also a proud day for McKibbin, who followed in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy by cutting his teeth in the game at Holywood Golf Club in Northern Ireland and has joined him as DP World Tour card holder.

“It was a lovely way to finish, so it was. To shoot six-under today on a course that is pretty tricky was nice,” said a smiling McKibbin. “The goal at the start of the season was to do this and to tick it off was pretty special and hopefully I can go on and have a good year next year.”

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As for that McIlroy connection, he added: “I’ve been hearing that for the last 10 or so years, so I’ve gotten used to it and I don’t listen to it, so it doesn’t bother me, even though it is there. But it’s cool that the club now has two DP World Tour members as it’s a great club.”

Southport man Baldwin heaved a huge sigh of relief when he discovered that a bogey to finish hadn’t killed off his dream of being back among the big boys. “I actually thought I needed to make the putt on the last to make my card, so I came off the green feeling absolutely gutted that I hadn’t got it but then when I saw the projected standings, it was like the weight of the world had come off my shoulders,” he said.

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On a day of tears, he was one of the most emotional and explained why. “My stepdad died in May, so to perform the way I have done since then, I should be proud of myself,” added Baldwin, who had Julien Phillips, one of the most experienced caddies in the game, on his bag.

Walker, who won the British Challenge the penultimate event of the regular season to get into the 45-man field, always just found himself outside of the top 20 on the final day, which he started with a rock-solid birdie but then mixed three bogeys with three birdies for the remainder of the journey.

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“I played well in the first round,” he said of an opening 68 that earned him a share of the lead before eventually ending up in a tie for tenth as he followed that with rounds of 75-70-71 for a four-under total. “But I’ve not played well since then. I still was very close and it just comes down to a couple of shots at the end of the day. So a bit disappointing, but, overall, I’ve had a great season, so I can be proud of that.”