Duncan Stewart edged closer to keeping a European Tour card by taking his earnings in eight days to just under £60,000 as Frenchman Romain Wattel, finally fulfilling the promise he showed on Scottish soil as an amateur, won the KLM Open.
Stewart got off to a slow start after stepping up to the top circuit as a Challenge Tour graduate, missing the cut in his first five events this season, but the 33-year-old now has a realistic chance of retaining a seat at the top table.
Backing up a career-best tie for ninth in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, Stewart signed off with a four-under-par 67 for an eight-under-par 276 total at The Dutch in Spijk, finishing in a tie for 20th.
The strong finish earned the Lothians-based Highlander a cheque for just under £18,000, adding to the £42,000 he picked up when also finishing as the leading Scot at Crans-sur-Sierre. With five regular events remaining, Stewart has climbed to 119th in the Race to Dubai, where the top 100 effectively after the Valderrama Masters next month will hang on to their playing privileges.
Wattel looked a star in the making when he claimed the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Gailes Links in 2010, his victory in the event being sandwiched by successes for Tommy Fleetwood and Andy Sullivan.
Yet, it was at the 187th time of asking that the 26-year-old Montpellier managed to make his European Tour breakthrough, shrugging off the fact he hadn’t manage a top-20 finish all season to post a 15-under 269 total to triumph by a shot from Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. “I have been in contention before and while I had not won before I knew what I had to do and thankfully this time it was my week,” said Wattel.
Matching Stewart’s closing effort to finish joint-25th, Richie Ramsay cemented his top-25 position in the Race to Dubai, where Marc Warren sits 174th after slipping from a promising spot at halfway to joint 59th at the conclusion.