Ireland’s Simon Thornton won the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC, at Aa St Omer Golf Club, after a playoff with Tjaart Van der Walt of South Africa.
Thornton was locked in a thrilling battle with playing partner Van der Walt down the stretch. The Irishman holed a succession of clutch putts to stay on terms with the South African. On the final green, the 36-year-old sank yet another tough putt to seal a par and force a playoff for the title.
On the first extra hole, Van der Walt fired his approach into the greenside bunker, while Thornton found the edge of the green. The South African splashed out to some 12 feet before Thornton rolled his putt to within tap-in range for par. Van der Walt missed his par effort and so Thornton was left to knock his ball into the cup and claim his first European Tour title.
“It’s so big for me,” he said. “I didn’t play particularly well today in perfect conditions but I got up and down when I had to and holed good putts.”
Van der Walt was disappointed not to take the victory.
“To get so close and not finish it off is tough,” said the 39-year-old. “I think if I can iron out those little mistakes I can go on to win tournaments by bigger margins and I’m the kind of person who gets motivated by these kind of things so hopefully the door will open again and I can do it with flying colours next time.”
Englishmen Seve Benson and Robert Dinwiddie finished third and fourth respectively.
Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC
Aa St Omer GC, St Omer, France
Jun 13-16, purse €500,000, par 71
1 Simon Thornton (Ire) 74 70 65 70 279 €83,330
2 Tjaart Van der Walt (RSA) 67 71 71 70 279 €55,550
3 Seve Benson (Eng) 75 65 70 70 280 €31,300
4 Robert Dinwiddie (Eng) 72 66 74 70 282 €25,000
T5 Pelle Edberg (Swe) 74 69 69 71 283 €19,350
T5 Chris Lloyd (Eng) 73 68 70 72 283 €19,350
T7 Agustin Domingo (Esp) 74 71 68 71 284 €12,900
T7 Jeppe Huldahl (Den) 73 67 73 71 284 €12,900
T7 Victor Riu (Fra) 68 71 72 73 284 €12,900
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage