GOTHENBURG – SA’s Erik van Rooyen birdied the last to move to 19-under and overcome Matthew Fitzpatrick in a thrilling final day battle and win his first European Tour title at the Scandinavian Invitation in Gothenburg on Sunday.
The South African was last season's European Challenge Tour Graduate of the Year and arrived at Hills Golf & Sports Club having finished second three times on the European Tour - twice on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
He entered the final day in Gothenburg with a one shot lead and was caught by Fitzpatrick and local hero Henrik Stenson but led by two at the turn and stretched that lead to three on the back nine.
Fitzpatrick – the 2016 champion – was tenacious in producing a birdie-birdie finish in a 64 and when Van Rooyen bogeyed the 17th, the players were tied at 18-under.
But the 29-year-old made a gutsy closing birdie from 15 feet on the par five last to match Fitzpatrick's 64 and get to 19 under.
Stenson thrilled the home fans with a hole-in-one at the sixth in a closing 66 that moved him to 13-under alongside South African Dean Burmester – who carded the same score.
Van Rooyen's victory is the 150th in European Tour history by a South African and moves him inside the top ten on the Race to Dubai Rankings.
"It's too good, it's hard to describe," he said.
"I was so nervous on 18. On 17 I was fine, I just didn't hit that putt hard enough and then I asked (caddie) Alex, 'what are we at?' and he told me that Matt went birdie-birdie.
"I've been putting so well all day and to hole that one to win my first one is pretty cool.
"I've gone close a bunch of times and every time I'm in contention the question gets asked. I'm just so proud of myself and Alex and everybody, I'm over the moon.”
African News Agency (ANA)