Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Open: Sweden's Joakim Lagergren holds nerve to lift trophy at Galgorm

Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren held off strong challenges to lift the Northern Ireland Open Challenge trophy today.

The 22-year-old ended a memorable week at Galgorm Castle where he opened with a course record 62 before making a birdie on the 72nd hole with a stunning chip onto the green.

The 22-year-old closed with a final round of one-over 72, his worst score of the week, but it was still good enough for a 13-under-par 271 total.

He finished one ahead of Adrien Bernadet from France, who closed with a 66.

“I couldn’t he happier than I am right now. I was nervous all day and am delighted to have won,” said Lagergren, who picked up a winner's cheque of over £21,000.

Lagergren began the final round with a six shot lead but his advantage was halved to three after he dropped two strokes in his opening three holes while Bernadet made an early birdie at the second. With nine holes to go Lagergren was joined at the top by the Frenchman.

By the time he stood on the 18th tee the Stockholm resident was level alongside Bernadet on 12-under and needing a birdie to avoid a play-off. His approach to the par-five finished to the right of the green in a poor lie. However, with a deft touch he pitched up to eight feet and kept his composure to hole out for a winning birdie.

“Under the circumstances the pitch at the 18th was my best shot of the week. I couldn’t have played it any better and am delighted to have got the job done,” added the winner, who was presented with the trophy by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.

“This was a deserved win for Joakim in what turned out to be a thrilling finish,” said Foster. “The combination of quality golf from players on the Challenge Tour and a family friendly golf village and food festival has proven to be a real winner when it comes to drawing a crowd.”

Once again the NI Open broke all European Challenge Tour records as official numbers for the final day of 13,180 gave a 34,481 total for the week.

Gareth Shaw and Johnny Caldwell finished the week as the leading Irish players as the pair finished tied 12th on six-under. Whitehead’s John-Ross Galbraith finished the week as leading amateur after he closed with a 70 for a three-over 287 total and in tie for 56th.

Shaw struggled with his game over the weekend but still managed to sign for a one-under 70, while Clandeboye’s Caldwell took full advantage of his invite and ended the week with a level par 71.

“I played solid as conditions weren’t easy for scoring. I could have holed a few more putts but I enjoyed the week and played some good stuff,” said Caldwell, who will turn his attentions back to the PGA EuroPro Tour.

Shaw was happy enough with his finish. “That was a battling one-under for I didn’t have control of my ball today. I just need to try and finish better over the weekends but overall I’m happy with my performance,” said Shaw, noting the importance of having a Challenge Tour event here in Northern Ireland.

“All the guys love coming here to compete at Galgorm, it’s definitely one of the best events we play in. Yet again Galgorm have pulled out all the stops and this is a very important tournament for us Irish players in terms of getting invites to other events through the season.”

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