Jamie Rutherford Triumphs in Dramatic Fashion at EuroPro Tour Championship
As the players prepared for their final round at Slaley Hall, there was one thing on their mind: qualification for next season’s Challenge Tour.
The weather threatened to dampen the party but the action on display was nothing short of remarkable as Jamie Rutherford survived a last hole bogey to not only win the Tour Championship but top the Order of Merit too.
Rutherford started the day two off the pace and ninth in the Order of Merit, playing in the penultimate group of the day.
He had demonstrated his quality throughout the season, finishing with the second-best stroke average and produced arguably one of the rounds of his life to mirror his long-term quality.
Having made the turn in 35, there was plenty to do for him to force his way into the alluring top five seasonal standings, however, after notching four consecutive birdies from 10-13, he moved to -9 and one clear of both Jack McDonald and Calum Fyfe.
After making an amazing recovery from an unpredictable lie, he secured par on 17 before agonisingly lipping out his par putt on the final hole of his tournament.
Fyfe, who was just one behind, played his third shot before Rutherford and as he was expecting his counterpart to make par, his aggressive chip was ultimately his undoing as he mirrored his partner’s bogey on the last.
As both the top two made bogey, McDonald was positioned nicely in the 18th fairway and with either a birdie for an outright win or a par to force a playoff, there was plenty to play for.
His approach shot fell short of the green and he was left with a difficult chip which fell short of his target and the subsequent putt rolled narrowly past the hole.
The standings had continuously changed and as the rain began to pour during the halfway stage, it seemed to be anyone’s game as the Hunting Course displayed its true beauty and challenge.
Mitch Waite will have been disappointed with finishing second in the OoM - having been dominant throughout the season - but his status has secured him a Challenge Tour card for the impending season.
Fyfe, who was in contention for the duration of his final outing, finished third in the Order of Merit and his two young daughters were on hand to celebrate their dad’s success.
Dan Brown, a member of the final group, sealed his card after finishing fourth but he made it difficult for himself.
An errant tee shot on the 18th forced the golfer to lay up but a tremendous up-and-down from over 100 yards away secured his fourth-place finish and a tie for second in the tournament.
John Parry has been as consistent as anyone throughout the season and his hard work was rewarded with the final Challenge Tour card.
William Harrold, the overnight leader, battled through the wind and elements as he finished solo fifth after a great conclusion.
Dermot McElroy, someone who held a Challenge Tour card position prior to the tournament, finished in scintillating fashion, carding seven-under which included a wonderful ace at the par-3 5th.
However, not only the top five have qualified for the Challenge Tour as the next five players in the OoM - to a limit of 15th position - will be issued category 20 status for next season.
The five who have finished between 5-10 are Will Enefer, who devastatingly missed out due to Brown’s heroics on the 18th, McElroy, Joe Dean, Tom Sloman and McDonald.
Sloman was awarded Rookie of the Year - an award that was first issued to Tyrrell Hatton - after he made 12 cuts from a possible 14 that also included 12 top 25s.
The Tour also departed with two longstanding and well-loved servants in Grahame and Heather Craddock, who are retiring after 14 years of service with the PGA EuroPro Tour.
Highlights will air on Sky Sports on November 2 at 20:00 and other networks around the world at the same time.
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