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18.09.2017 - European Tour, KLM Open, The Dutch, final report. Wattel flying high after KLM Open victory

omain Wattel landed his first European Tour title after a dramatic finish at the KLM Open. The Frenchman, who had recorded 25 top-ten finishes in his previous 186 events without tasting victory, was in control for much of the final round but survived a late scare when he missed the green with his approach to the last. He successfully got up and down for par and a closing 69, which gave him a 15 under total.
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At the end he was one ahead of fast-finishing Canadian Austin Connelly, with Kiradech Aphibarnrat – Wattel’s main challenger for much of the day - finding water with his second to the 18th and dropping to 12 under with the subsequent double bogey. © Getty Images

Romain Wattel’s victory was all the more remarkable as he had not finished higher than 24th previously this season and came into the week down at 130th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex. Happy Wattel said: “I feel very good right now. I wasn’t feeling great at the beginning of the week to be honest because I have being playing badly this year. I’m not going to say that everything was perfect this week but my putting was great all week and I just tried to play as smart as I could and I am obviously delighted with the result." Thailand’s Aphibarnrat held a one shot lead overnight but Wattel swiftly passed him with three birdies from close range in his first six holes. French rookie Joël Stalter leapfrogged Wattel when he birdied the eighth and his compatriot’s par putt from eight feet lipped out. Stalter’s challenge faded with three bogeys on the back nine but Wattel birdied the tenth and, although he bogeyed the next, a run of pars kept him in contention as others stumbled. Aphibarnrat briefly led whe he birdied the 14th, but he found water at the next and double bogeyed before suffering the same fate at the last as he attempted to put pressure on Wattel by reaching the green at the par five in two. The 20 year old Connelly had six birdies in a closing 66 to finish second on 14 under, with Stalter, German Sebastian Heisele, English pair Eddie Pepperell and Lee Westwood and South Africans George Coetzee and Justin Walters all tied for third a shot further back.