| 15.8°C Belfast

Koivisto is on a high after Galgorm success

 

Close

All smiles: Tyler Koivisto gets to grips with the trophy in Ballymena

All smiles: Tyler Koivisto gets to grips with the trophy in Ballymena

All smiles: Tyler Koivisto gets to grips with the trophy in Ballymena

Tyler Koivisto declared this the best week of his golfing life after claiming victory in his first Challenge Tour start at the Northern Ireland Open supported by the R&A at Galgorm Castle.

After nine pars on his front nine, the 27-year-old American birdied the first two holes of his back nine and capped off his round with a birdie at the 18th for a two-stroke victory over Norway's Kristian Krogh Johannessen at 13-under-par for the week.

The victory is made even more impressive as Koivisto was a fourth-grade teacher in his native Minnesota only two years ago, electing to turn professional in 2018, with this result granting him full Challenge Tour playing rights for next season.

"It's very special. Golfing wise, probably the best week of my life," said Koivisto, who signed for a three-under 67 in his final round on his way to victory.

"They called me up last week and asked me if I could fly over and I said yes, I'm going to take any opportunity I can get.

"I think my mentality was good this week. I was really relaxed, not really caring and, in terms of expectations, I was just hitting golf shots and having fun. I had a blast this week on the course. I didn't really worry too much about the results."

Johannessen shot a 65 yesterday to finish second at 11-under, with Jens Fahrbring (Sweden) and Andrew Wilson (England) tying for third at 10-under.

The best local finisher was John Ross Galbraith, who secured a tied-19th finish at four-under-par after a rollercoaster level-par 70 in his final round.

The Whitehead man had a poor front nine, making the turn in three-over, but steadied the ship on the back nine and managed to finish where he started with a big eagle at the 18th.

"My first few holes were a real kick in the teeth, but I'm pleased with how I hung in there and fought back after reaching the turn three-over," said Galbraith.

"Overall, it was a very positive week, but now my season is up the air. Obviously there's no qualifier for the Irish Open this year, which is unfortunate. There are a few events around Ireland and I'll see if a few invites pop up."

Ireland's Niall Kearney finished at two-under, while Conor O'Rourke had a tough weekend after making the cut, finishing at 17-over-par for the tournament.

On the European Tour, Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye) shot a six-over-par 77 in his final round at the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama to finish in a tie for 62nd at 16-over overall as John Catlin made it two American victories on the weekend.

At the Munster Stroke Play in Cork, the second Bridgestone Order of Merit event of the year, Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) prevailed, with Ryan Gribben (Warrenpoint) the best Ulster finisher.

Belfast Telegraph