Daniel Gaunt survived a tricky start and a raft of final round challengers to win The Motocaddy Masters at Wensum Valley Hotel Golf and Country Club by five shots at ten under par.
Gaunt began the day three shots clear at seven under par but he bogeyed three of his first six holes to add pressure to his run down the back nine, with Michael Collins shooting 68 earlier in the day to lead in the clubhouse at four under.
After his second round the Australian said there were plenty of chances on the back nine and that proved vital as he picked up four birdies from the 12th and finished in the grand manner with an eagle at the last to card a final round 69, finishing ten under for the tournament â€“ six under for his last seven holes â€“ and five shots clear of Dale Marmion and Andrew Johnston who tied for second place.
â€œWinning the first event is very big,â€ said Gaunt, who pockets a cheque for Â£10,000 for the win. â€œTopping the Order of Merit at any stage is good and it gives me momentum for the rest of the Tour.â€
While other players lost their cool down the back nine and their challenges fell away, the 31 year-old claimed the title by taking his chances on the final stretch â€“ something he put down to a new patient attitude.
â€œIâ€™ve been working on keeping calm on the course as Iâ€™ve lost my temper in the past â€“ that win was all down to patience,â€ said Gaunt. â€œI didnâ€™t play badly on the front nine but I missed a few little putts and that caused me to drop shots. Perhaps in the past that might have affected me, but I kept patient because I knew a strong back nine would see me home.
â€œIn 2005, Andrew Marshall chipped in at 18 here to pip me to the title so today is a little bit of revenge for that too!â€
Marmion (Eaton GC) led the tournament after the first round but had to settle for a share of second spot. The 2008 Order of Merit runner-up appeared in trouble when four bogeys and a solitary birdie to the tenth saw him drop to level par for the tournament, but five birdies down the rest of the back nine was the strong finish his opening round of 65 deserved.
Johnston (North Middlesex) enjoyed a similar flourish on the back nine as he shot a final round 69 to share the spoils of second spot with Marmion. He moved to two under after the fifth but cancelled those shots out by the tenth. Birdies at 14 and 16 moved him to four under for the round before a vital birdie at the last pulled him up to five under.
By the time Gaunt teed off, a number of players had moved into contention and it was Michael Collins who held the most hope in the clubhouse. Collins (foreireland.com) began the day at level par and was one under through 15 before a grandstand finish of three birdies saw him set the bar at four under. John Spagnuolo was another player who sped up the field thanks to a back nine flourish, carding a three under 69 after sitting at one over through the 12th before picking up four birdies to join Collins in a three-way tie for fourth. Paul Oâ€™Hanlon (Curragh) completed that trio, left to rue a double bogey at the sixth on his way to a final round of 71.
Kieran Staunton succumbed to a similar fate as he was forced to take a drop on the 16th, leading to a double bogey. Staunton (Woodcote Park) was two under par to that point â€“ four under for the tournament â€“ but that blemish cost him in the final count, although a birdie at 17 did see him shoot 71 to finish in a tie for seventh. James Hepworth (Ilkley GC) and Jeremy Kavanagh (Stoke Park) join Staunton in seventh, with Hepworth matching Stauntonâ€™s 71 and Kavanagh going one better with a 70.
Paul Maddy was in the ninth pair to go out and his 68 turned into a significant marker for the final day. Maddy (Gog Magog) kicked off at two over and dropped a shot on the first but he was sitting pretty in the clubhouse at two under as the leading groups dropped early shots â€“ Maddy birdying the seventh, 12th and 13th before finishing birdie-birdie to sit at two under.
Maddy was joined in a four-way tie for tenth spot by Gary King (Tyrrells Wood) and Matthew Mills (Wentworth) who both shot rounds of 70, and a disappointed Matt Allen, who bogeyed the last two holes to finish level for the day and two under for the tournament.
The second event on the 2010 PGA EuroPro Tour takes place at Burhill GC in Surrey from May 26-28.
The full final round scores from The Motocaddy Masters at Wensum Valley are available via the Score Updates link.
1 Daniel Gaunt 206 69, 68, 69 -10 Â£10,000.00
=2 Andrew Johnston 211 72, 70, 69 -5 Â£3,750.00
=2 Dale Marmion 211 65, 76, 70 -5 Â£3,750.00
=4 Michael Collins 212 70, 74, 68 -4 Â£1,433.33
=4 John Spagnuolo 212 74, 69, 69 -4 Â£1,433.33
=4 Paul O’Hanlon 212 71, 70, 71 -4 Â£1,433.33
=7 Jeremy Kavanagh 213 71, 72, 70 -3 Â£916.67
=7 James Hepworth 213 68, 74, 71 -3 Â£916.67
=7 Kieran Staunton 213 72, 70, 71 -3 Â£916.67