Clément Sordet sealed a sensational maiden professional victory in just his fourth start in the paid ranks at the Northern Ireland Open in Association with Sphere Global and Ulster Bank after a dramatic finale in front of bumper crowds at Galgorm Castle.
Sordet started the day two shots behind overnight leaders, Spain’s Emilio Cuartero Blanco and Ireland’s Niall Turner, but kept his composure to land the €27,200 first prize.
The 22-year-old closed with a final round 66 for a 17-under-par 267 winning aggregate to win by one from American John Hahn (66) in second.
Daan Huizing, the 2013 NI Open champion from the Netherlands, carded a final round 66 to be tied third on 15-under alongside Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia (66), who leads the Road to Oman standings.
“I honestly am living my dream,” said Sordet.
“I don’t even realise just yet that I even won, it feels amazing but I think it’s going to take time to sink in – maybe tonight or tomorrow when I wake up.
“With my caddy, we just did such a great job today and over the past three days as well. We kept the same strategy that had worked well for the first three rounds.
“I made some good putts and had three eagle putts, which shows I was playing good approaches.
“I played amazing golf, especially today, it felt like I didn’t make any mistakes out there, and it just feels amazing to win.”
Cork’s Turner dropped back with a final round 73 but still ended the week as leading Irishman 12th on 12-under. Newcastle’s Simon Thornton (69) and local favourite Chris Selfridge (70) finished three shots further back on nine-under.
“I putted fantastic all week but I just didn’t have my A game,” said Selfridge.
“That’s the way it goes. I was sick last week, so expectations were not high.
“I wouldn’t call it a good result but I look forward to playing again.”
Selfridge went to the turn in two under 33 with an eagle on the ninth, but he struggled to maintain his momentum on the back nine, coming home in one over 37.
He added, “I didn’t feel I played very well tee to green this week but my short game has improved massively. I played well at times but I just a few bad shots here and there. I will learn from it and move on.”
Newcastle based Thornton was upbeat with his weekend’s work and looking ahead to European Tour starts in Denmark and Czech Republic.
“Golf wise for me we’re back on the right track. I hit it lovely the last two days but holed nothing,” said Simon.
“That bodes well for the rest of the season. It’s always the way when you get something sorted then another part of the game goes.”
Sordet, who attended Texas Tech University in the United States, enjoyed a stellar amateur career and rose to 22 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). Last year he finished runner-up in the Le Vaudreuil Challenge in his home country when still an amateur and only turned professional in July this year.
The new champion left one of his wedges on the practice green on Thursday. He borrowed another wedge from the Galgorm Castle professional shop and played that well with it, the borrowed wedge stayed in the bag all week.