McGowan bridges 11-year gap with emotional Italian victory

Ross McGowan sealed an emotional victory at the Italian Open, his first win in 11 years, as the Englishman holed a 20-foot putt at the last to overcome his playing partner Laurie Canter after a thrilling final day battle at Chervò Golf Club.

The 38-year-old holed a plethora of long-range putts throughout the week in Brescia and once again, he had his putter to thank on the final day. His chance looked to have gone at the long par three 14th hole, where he found the water with his tee shot to leave him one over par for the day.

But a superb up-and-down from the drop zone kept him in the mix and birdies at the 16th, where he holed out from a greenside bunker, and 18th earned him a one under 71 and a 20 under par winning total – his first European Tour title since the 2009 Madrid Masters.

His playing partner Canter had the chance to force a play-off with a birdie putt of his own just after McGowan’s, but the 30-year-old was left to rue missing out on his chance of a maiden title as he signed for a 72 to finish one back.

Former Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts joined Canter in a share of second spot after the Belgian’s birdie at the par five closing hole – his fifth of the day having started the day with a bogey – earned him a four under 68, a 19 under total and his best finish of the season.

Player Quotes

Ross McGowan: “My head is going full blast at the moment. Obviously I’m very happy, not happy with the way I played particularly but I got the ball in the hole which in the past has been my nemesis, so it was nice to be able to do that this week. 

“When I hit the bunker shot on 16, that came exactly how I saw it and it obviously went in and the putter has been good all week, so I felt like if I put it to six or eight foot at 18 I had a good chance of making birdie. 

“To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about anything over that putt. I just looked at the hole, it was left edge, and obviously the rest is history. 

“Neither of us played great, Laurie struggled a little with the putter but was much better tee-to-green than I was. But really I felt like the course didn’t suit me that much, it was quite long and I was hitting four or five iron into most of the par fours – even yesterday I hit five wood three or four times. Quite a few of the longer hitters were hitting six, seven or eight irons in so it was really a good week to make a lot of putts. 

“Even when we played the practice round, I knew that fifth hole was going to be tough off the back tees, all depending on what the wind was doing when we got there. The front edge was right on the limit for my four iron and three iron is looking back edge or even longer, so you’re trying to fiddle something in there and find the middle of the green but unfortunately I hit it in the water. It was nice to bounce back straight afterward with an eagle there. 

“I didn’t really foresee this, my form hasn’t been great. But I felt like I was playing better, definitely around the greens. I’m not sure I was expecting to be quite as bad as it was today but at the same time it’s moving forward now. I want to say thank you to Callaway for all their support over the last ten years or so. I think I’m going to have to go now and have a nice big glass of red wine and think about what’s next.”

Laurie Canter: “It was horrible. The front nine, I actually felt like I played alright to be honest. I hit the ball nice for most of the day, but I was just exposed on the greens and around the greens. I just didn’t feel right, didn’t feel comfortable all day. 

“I felt like I needed to get forward and then suddenly the bogey at five, I just got caught up in it. It’s disappointing. 

“I think around here, you have little stretches of the golf course where you can get going and I felt like every time I could drop a shot, I did. I didn’t really make a save and had a couple of bad three-putts and you’re not going to win on the European Tour doing that, clearly. 

“I felt like it was right there for me today, the tournament really opened up for me or Ross to win it. I was surprised to be honest, nobody behind really came on us, so it’s about as good an opportunity as you could ever have to win a tournament to be honest. So I’ll just have to reflect on that and hopefully improve and go from there. 

“I just need to be happy with the finish, it’s a good week and I played a lot of good golf and hopefully I am going to have a long career out here, but days like that obviously hurt. I’ll need to just think for a little bit, for a day or two, and reflect on what I didn’t do today. Hopefully I can have an opportunity to put it right. I’d love to win obviously, but we’ll see.”

Nicolas Colsaerts: “I didn’t really make the ideal start, it was just a bit slow and I left a lot of putts short. I wasn’t really feeling that comfortable on the front nine, but then I figured if I made a blitz in I still would have had a chance.  

“I made a few good putts in the last four or five holes to actually remain with a chance, but a wonderful way to finish from Ross so there’s no regrets at all.  “If I was quickly under par on the front nine, like three under, that would have been a nice step to build on, but it wasn’t the case and I had to dig deep. I was still proud with how I fought until the end. It’s always great when you have a chance, especially on one of the old tournaments we get to play, one of the national opens. I always felt like I left a little bit of meat on the bones at this one down the years so it would have been a great one to add but just not this time.”

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