England’s Ross McGowan ended a wait of 11 years and 15 days to claim his second European Tour title with a dramatic victory at the Italian Open.
The 38-year-old has spent much of the last decade in the golfing wilderness after winning the Madrid Masters in 2009 and almost making in onto Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup team the following year.
He lost his place on the European Tour in 2011 and despite successful trips to the qualifying school in 2015 and 2017, he has not finished in Europe’s top 150 since 2010.
But he put all that behind him in Brescia, holing a spectacular bunker shot on the 16th and then making a 20-foot putt on the par-five last for two late birdies that handed him a closing 71 and a one-shot victory over countryman Laurie Canter and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts at 20 under.
“I’m very happy, not happy with the way I played particularly but I got the ball in the hole which in the past has been my nemesis, so it was nice to be able to do that this week,” he said.
“I didn’t really foresee this, my form hasn’t been great. But I felt like I was playing better, definitely around the greens.
“I think I’m going to have to go now and have a nice big glass of red wine and think about what’s next.”
McGowan and Canter entered the final day three shots clear of the field in a share of the lead but they had been caught by the eighth as they both turned in 37, with McGowan following a double-bogey after finding water on the fifth with an eagle from 14 feet on the next.
I didn’t really foresee this, my form hasn’t been greatRoss McGowan
Birdies on the 10th and 11th handed Canter a two-shot lead but he made back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th, with McGowan’s brilliance from the sand on the next handing him the solo lead for the first time all week.
Canter hit back with a tee shot to six feet on the 17th and it was a three-way tie as the last group played the 18th, with Colsaerts making a birdie ahead of them.
McGowan laid up and left himself 20 feet for birdie and, while Canter found the greenside rough in two, he could not get up and down and McGowan sealed victory with a birdie.
Canter carded a 72, with 2012 Ryder Cup hero Colsaerts signing for a closing 68 to finish one shot ahead of German Sebastian Heisele.
Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell was then in a five-man group at 17 under including two-time major champion Martin Kaymer.
Joachim B Hansen was withdrawn from the event before the final round after his caddie tested positive for coronavirus, with the Dane himself returning a negative test result.