In a fantastic final round Gaunt (Selsdon Park GC) closed the gap on overnight leader Mark Laskey (The Shire) and his playing partner James Busby (The Shropshire) but all three players felt the pressure of the tight contest in the closing holes and finished level on nine under.

The first time they went down the 18th for the play-off, Laskey found a terrible lie and could only hack his ball 30 yards down the fairway to rule out his challenge. Gaunt’s approach left him just off the front right edge of the green while Busby found the green but was a good 40 feet from the hole.

Gaunt chipped beautifully to within a foot of the hole while Busby’s putt was weak and left him a testing ten footer – which he calmly holed to force the Australian back onto the tee.

Both players found the fairway on the right as they went down 18 for the second play-off hole but Busby pushed his approach into the rough to the right of the green while Gaunt was just on the green to the right. Busby chipped through the green to the rough on the left while Gaunt struck his 20 foot putt well but it lipped out to three foot. Busby needed to chip in but he didn’t threaten the pin and Gaunt holed his putt for par and the £10,000 first prize.

“It’s been a long couple of years,” said Gaunt. “I’ve had 12 months off because I couldn’t afford to play but I’ve been working hard all year, I felt this was coming and that work has paid off today.

“I thought I’d blown it to be honest,” said the 29 year-old. “I three putted on 17 and after a bad chip on the last for bogey you don’t want to know what I was thinking after I finished.”

Gaunt watched by the side of the green as Busby went down the 18th ten under but bogeyed the final hole to head into the play-off – and giving Gaunt the chance to redeem himself.

“My caddie Chris kept me going and even though I hit a bad drive on the first play-off hole I had a decent lie and thought I hit the middle of the green with my approach – the chip was fantastic though.

“My drive was pretty perfect second time round and again I thought I was hitting the middle of the green but my putt was good and sinking that three footer for the win was great.

 “I missed out on the top five of the Order of Merit by a week so now I’ve got to enter the first stage of Q School for the European Tour, but I’m looking to the top five or even topping the money list for the end of the year and getting my Challenge Tour card as a back – my game couldn’t be better at the moment so we’ll see.”

Laskey led for the opening two rounds and was three shots clear of playing partner Busby going into the final round at nine under par. Even though he couldn’t shake off Busby or Gaunt he found himself 11 under after 15 but a double bogey at 16 cost him dear. Busby’s 69 was kick-started by birdies on the opening three holes, but he wobbled at the end with a bogey-birdie-bogey finish. As Gaunt said, he was kicking himself at the end of his round after picking up six birdies to the 15th but then finishing bogey-bogey.

Andrew Pestell (Chelmsford GC) bogeyed the last to drop to eight under and miss out on making the play-off a four-man affair, while Matthew Ford (Marriott Tudor Park) and Steven Capper (Caldy GC) finished tied fifth at six under.

The next event on the Ivobank PGA EuroPro Tour is the Brooks Brothers Classic at the Five Lakes Golf, Country Club and Spa in Colchester, beginning on September 2.