Scotland's Connor Syme rallies for first Challenge Tour victory

Scotland's Connor Syme rallies for first Challenge Tour victory

He wins Turkish Airlines Challenge with birdie on first playoff hole

Metro Golf Notes Posted by Reid Spencer
image (Photo by Getty Images)
Connor Syme of Scotland sank a 5-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to win the Turkish Airlines Challenge.

SAMSUN, Turkey -- Connor Syme claimed his first European Challenge Tour title in style at the Turkish Airlines Challenge as he held his nerve to defeat Francesco Laporta in a playoff to triumph at Samsun Golf Club.

The duo played in the same group together for the second straight day, and both carded 5-under-par rounds of 67 to reach a 23-under-par total, necessitating extra holes to determine a winner.

Returning to the 18th hole, both players found the fairway with an iron off the tee before Syme hit a sensational 7-iron approach to 5 feet and holed the birdie putt to win the first Challenge Tour Rankings event of the season.   

The 23-year-old was showered with water in celebration by his compatriots after securing victory, and he believes this win justifies his decision to play in Turkey, and not in Morocco at the Trophée Hassan II.

“It’s massive, I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said. “A few people might have been thinking why I hadn’t gone to Morocco this week, so it was good to justify my decision to come here and win. I’m absolutely delighted, and it sets me up for the season, so hopefully it’s just the start.

“Of all the holes, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to play 18, because I’ve not really got a club for it. I’ve got a 5 wood in the bag this week, but that brings the bunker into play off the left, so I just had to hit 4 iron.

“I had 190 yards in regular play, and it was right in between an 8 and a 7 for me because it’s a little bit down breeze, so I had to hit 8 and try and draw it and didn’t quite get it right, so I holed a good putt for par.

“There in the playoff, I had 196 yards and it was very quick, I just pulled seven because it was the shot I’d been practicing on the range, and it was the right shot at the right time, so I’m delighted.”

With players shooting rounds of 11 under par and 10 under par in the first three days, the course setup team set some testing pins for the final round, meaning scoring was more moderate and suited Syme’s game plan.

“The scoring has been crazy low the whole week, and I had a feeling that I needed to get to 25 under par,” he said. “That was my target, and I just wanted to play my own game, but it’s just so difficult with the big leaderboards, and you see people aren’t pushing as much as you possibly thought.

“I thought I had to get to 25 under par. The last few holes are challenging. I honestly thought last night that I was in the perfect position, because the way the course is, it’s so difficult to keep pushing all the time.

“When you’re ahead, it’s probably hard to keep pushing on, so I was in a good position where I wasn’t sleeping on a lead. I was there still being able to shoot at a number, and I was able to do that.”

Dutch duo Wil Besseling and Darius van Driel shared third place at 22 under following respective rounds of 65 and 67, while Mark Flindt Haastrup, who started the day in second place, and three-time European Tour winner Grégory Havret tied for fifth at 21 under par.

Overnight leader Adrian Meronk posted a 1-over 73 to finish in a tie for seventh alongside the English duo of Gary Boyd and Matthew Jordan.

With victory in Turkey, Syme jumps straight to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings with 32,000 points, while Laporta is second with 22,000.

The Challenge Tour now heads to Spain for the Challenge de España at Izki Golf, Urturi.


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