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Gaunt wins first ever Challenge Tour competition

Gaunt wins first ever Challenge Tour competition

July 26th, 2010

PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit leader Daniel Gaunt has continued his amazing season by winning his first ever Challenge Tour event.

Gaunt’s success also boosts every player on the EuroPro Tour as it means the man finishing sixth on the end of season money list will now move up to next season’s Challenge Tour.

Gaunt finished top of the English Challenge at Stoke-By-Nayland in Essex as he took advantage of a final hole bogey by amateur sensation Tommy Fleetwood.

Australian Gaunt, who only got into the €150,000 event through his position at the top of the EuroPro Tour Order of Merit, benefited from Fleetwood’s costly slip-up to take the title by one stroke.

The duo reached the par three 18th level on 17 under par, and when both men found the middle of the green with their tee shots, a play-off seemed the most likely outcome.

But when Fleetwood rushed his birdie attempt four feet past the hole and missed the return, Gaunt was presented with a par putt from three feet to capture the title, which he duly took.

The reward for the man from Melbourne was a cheque for €24,000 and a one-year exemption on the Challenge Tour, whilst Fleetwood – who dropped back into a tie for second place alongside Scotland’s Craig Lee (another EuroPro Tour star) – will return to the amateur ranks at next week’s English Amateur Championship.

“I’m not sure whether it’s sunk in just yet, but I’m absolutely delighted,” said Gaunt.

“When I got to the 16th tee I started feeling the nerves a little bit, because you’re faced with two tough driving holes. I got lucky on the 16th because I hit a terrible drive, had to chip it out and then ended up making a really good par.

“Obviously Tommy played really well, it was just unfortunate that he missed that putt on the last, for him and probably for the tournament also. But he’s going to have a massive career ahead of him, so I don’t feel too sorry for him!”

Gaunt has been in incredible form this season after he won the first EuroPro Tour event of 2010 at Wensum Valley in Norfolk.

He has followed that up by coming second twice, third, seventh and 21st and is currently more than £7,000 ahead of second-placed Lee on the Order of Merit.

Gaunt is highly expected to finish in the top five of the money list and if he does that means the player finishing sixth will also advance to next season’s Challenge Tour.

Lee’s round of 68, which was sealed with a closing birdie, saw the Scotsman join Fleetwood in a share of second place on 16 under par. He will now turn his attentions back to the EuroPro Tour, where he will no longer have Gaunt to contend with.

Lee said: “I think a few of the guys on the EuroPro will be pretty pleased to see the back of Daniel!

“He’s been exceptional this season, so that’s one less hurdle to overcome. I was very pleased with how I played today and this week in general, so while I would’ve loved to have won, I’ve got no complaints. It’s only one week, but I’d like to think I’ve proved I’m more than capable of holding my own on the Challenge Tour and I’m confident of doing myself justice on the main Tour, if and hopefully when I get back out there.”

Danny Nickless, Operations Manager for the PGA EuroPro Tour, added: “I think the gap between the players on the EuroPro Tour and the Challenge Tour is lessening every year and this kind of result proves that.

“This latest victory shows the strength of the PGA EuroPro Tour and I expect Daniel to be pushing for further titles in the near future.”

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