Jason Palmer rounded off a wire-to-wire victory at the Foshan Open with an impressive round of 69 to win by a stroke from compatriot Ben Evans and claim a career-changing first European Challenge Tour title.

On a muggy afternoon at Foshan Golf Club, the Englishman handled the pressure with aplomb, carding four birdies to extend his advantage, before a nervy three-putt bogey at the penultimate hole made things interesting heading down the last.

His tee shot at the par five found the centre of the fairway though, and when a pin-point layup was followed by a typically precise wedge, all that was required were two putts for a 15 under par total and the title.

Palmer duly obliged, tapping in from a foot to rubber stamp a win that sees him rocket up the Rankings, thanks to a cheque for €43,594 and a certain dietary tradition he established earlier in the week.

“Absolutely – I did go to McDonalds last night, and I think I was about the 20th player in the queue,” said the 30 year old from England’s East Midlands, who climbs 31 places to 12th on the Rankings.

“I just feel so over the moon. It is a total dream come true. I set out at the start of this season and my goal was to try and win, as I have won at a lower level but never here. It might have taken me 22 events this season, but I have finally done it, and I’m ecstatic.

“I really surprised myself with how calm I was today, and what helped was hitting good shots, so there was no reason to get stressed. I was in control of my golf ball today, and when I am playing well I don’t get as stressed, it is only when you hit the odd shot offline that you can have problems in a round.

“The strategy all week was to try and leave it below the hole on the greens to give myself an uphill putt, and at times it can feel like you are playing defensive, but actually you’re playing it smart. You’re going to hole a few putts if you leave it below the hole, and make a few birdies along the way, but the course was a good test and the scoring showed that.

“I don’t come from a privileged background and golf is an expensive sport to play, and certainly professionally, you’re expenses throughout a season can total around £15-20,000. So without the help of other people I wouldn’t have even been able to play, and I just want to thank everyone who has helped me throughout my career, they know who they are, and I’m so grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to play.

“To think that I am now so close to graduating to The European Tour is crazy, and once this has settled in I will have to refocus for the final two events, and hopefully I can keep this form going and earn enough to secure my card. That really would be a dream come true.”

Despite coming up just short of a first title of his own, it was a still a stand out week for runner-up Evans, who posted the best finish of his Challenge Tour career.

It has been an up and down few years for the man from Kent, but five birdies, an eagle and a single dropped shot on Sunday were enough to see him run Palmer as close as anyone on the last day.

Starting out the Final Swing – encompassing the closing four events of the season – the Englishman’s goal was to secure his place in the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club, but with a place in the top 45 secured, he can now turn his attentions to graduation.

“I gave it my best shot on the back nine, but I’m pleased with how I played today,” said Evans, who heads to Oman next week one place shy of the top 15. “I’ve had some good rounds here and there this season, but not really put four together. I’ve had some very good, and some not so good in the middle of the year, but I changed what I was doing hallway through and it has paid off.

“This year has been a move back in the right direction, but you’ve just got to play consistently out here. You still need to take advantage of your good weeks, but if you can finish top 20 every week you will move up eventually.

“I’m going to be pretty tired when we get to Oman tomorrow morning, but I have enjoyed China. This week we have been treated unbelievably, as good as any European Tour event I have played at. It has been great, a credit to everyone who has been involved.”

As for the rest of the chasing pack – Jason Barnes, Jens Fahrbring and Mark Tullo rounded out the podium places at 13 under par after rounds of 70, 68 and 68, respectively.

Matthew Fitzpatrick shot the round of the day – a 65 – which was also the lowest of his professional career. That vaulted him 22 places on the final day and into a tie for sixth alongside compatriots Daniel Gaunt (70), Chris Hanson (71) and Chris Paisley (70), as well as Sweden’s Pelle Edberg (70) and Scotland’s Andrew McArthur (68).

Final golf scores:

272 J Palmer (Eng) 65 69 69 69,
273 B Evans (Eng) 67 72 68 66,
275 J Barnes (Eng) 66 70 69 70, J Fahrbring (Swe) 70 68 69 68, M Tullo (Chi) 69 70 68 68,
276 C Hanson (Eng) 68 68 69 71, C Paisley (Eng) 68 70 68 70, D Gaunt (Eng) 67 69 70 70, P Edberg (Swe) 70 66 70 70, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 70 72 65, A McArthur (Sco) 68 70 70 68,
277 T Pilkadaris (Aus) 71 70 67 69, R Gouveia (Por) 65 72 70 70,
278 D Law (Sco) 70 73 69 66, P Maddy (Eng) 71 68 69 70, A Hortal (Esp) 71 72 66 69, H Joannes (Bel) 70 68 68 72, C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 70 67 70,
279 S Tiley (Eng) 72 69 68 70, T Sluiter (Ned) 70 71 72 66, M Orrin (Eng) 68 72 72 67, B Ritthammer (Ger) 66 69 69 75, P Oriol (Esp) 68 69 74 68,
280 A Marshall (Eng) 73 67 69 71, B An (Kor) 73 68 71 68,
281 B Åkesson (Swe) 74 67 69 71, P Dwyer (Eng) 70 71 70 70, R Davies (Wal) 71 73 66 71, N Ravano (Ita) 72 70 69 70, R Coles (Eng) 71 69 69 72, J Guerrier (Fra) 69 71 70 71,
282 N Lemke (Swe) 71 73 67 71, F Bergamaschi (Ita) 70 74 68 70, M Lafeber (Ned) 71 72 72 67, J Huldahl (Den) 67 73 71 71, C Yi (Chn) 72 71 71 68, E Espana (Fra) 72 67 70 73, M Delpodio (Ita) 74 66 71 71,
283 T Linard (Fra) 72 71 70 70, M Wiegele (Aut) 70 69 73 71, P Widegren (Swe) 68 69 71 75,
284 G Murray (Sco) 69 71 77 67, J Roos (RSA) 73 70 72 69,
285 A Tadini (Ita) 74 70 70 71, J Senior (Eng) 68 72 72 73, Y Tian (Chn) 71 74 71 69, W Harrold (Eng) 67 67 75 76,
286 L Ding-Feng (Chn) 66 72 73 75, O Zheng (Chn) 72 71 71 72, S Dong (Chn) 71 69 68 78,
287 H Wen-Yi (Chn) 72 73 72 70, H Ze-Yu (Chn) 67 74 72 74, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 70 71 75 71,
289 R McGowan (Eng) 69 72 75 73,
290 H Shao-Cai (Chn) 74 70 74 72,
291 C Ford (Eng) 73 70 71 77,
292 P Relecom (Bel) 74 68 77 73,
293 A Velasco (Esp) 70 71 72 80, Z Hui-Lin (Chn) 72 72 74 75,
294 W Weijun (Chn) 74 71 74 75,
295 Z Guo-Wu (Chn) 71 68 78 78

Source: European Tour


Graham J Gordon, The Editor and Owner, GolfblogspotUK

The GolfblogspotUK website is owned and run by former Walker Cup player and European Tour card holder, Graham J Gordon, from Scotland, the Home of Golf. The owner is a golf fanatic who had to retire early from competitive tour play due to a back injury that required surgery. Graham wishes to share his knowledge and own experiences of the game with the GolfblogspotUK community and to receive your feedback on all aspects of the sport. Graham has been playing the game for over 20 years and received a great deal of pleasure from the sport. He has met several friends and visited many different places around the world, thanks to playing the great game of golf. Time to put a little back into the game to help others.

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