Switzerland’s Jeremy Freiburghaus moved into the top spot on the Challenge Tour money list after overcoming Max Schmitt in a play-off at the English Trophy at Frilford Heath Golf Club.
A par at the first extra hole was enough for the 26-year-old to claim his first Challenge Tour title as Schmitt could only manage a double-bogey six after seeing his first tee shot bounce in the car park and onto the roof of the clubhouse.
The duo took part in an epic duel on the final day at the Oxfordshire venue, as Freiburghaus overturned a two-stroke deficit with a sublime six under par 66 to tie on 22 under par after 72 holes, before triumphing in the play-off to move to the top of the rankings with just one event left to play.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment all year and to have it happen on the very last tournament is pretty special,” he said. “It’s very big. Getting a win was the main goal this year, came up short twice, but I think that really helped me to stay patient and humble for the win and here we are. My goal was to finish up there and I didn’t think about finishing first but I’m really happy.”
Freiburghaus dropped only one shot in his final round – at the par three ninth – and credited an improvement in his putting for reaching the summit, before sticking to his strategy in the play-off.
“I putted really well today,” he said. “I’ve been struggling a bit the past few days and I didn’t make many mistakes off the tee, that really helps makes the game much more relaxed. Coming in clutch on the back nine was awesome. “I could’ve been a little bit more aggressive. but I hit the three wood before and I thought if I catch it really well, I might be able to get on. I wanted to take the out of bounds out of play so I think, strategy-wise, it worked out well in the end. I wasn’t really nervous because in a play-off, you’ve just got to win. Worst case you’re going to finish second, so you’ve got to go all-in.”
Schmitt’s solo second place was enough for him to climb 21 places on the money list into 18th ahead of the season-finale at Club de Alcanada next month. England’s Ben Schmidt posted the low round of his Challenge Tour career – a seven under 65 – to claim his best finish to date in third on 20 under par.
The field is now set for the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final at Club de Golf Alcanada from November 3-6, with France’s Adrien Saddier the only man to jump inside the top 45 at the final opportunity, as he birdied the last to claim a share of 11th place and climb five places to 43rd. He displaced Englishman Steven Tiley.
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