Scot says he’s ‘happy as Larry’ after his first victory in six years
Jamie McLeary bridged a six-year gap to win the second Challenge Tour title of his career and, in doing so, gave his hopes of an immediate return to the European Tour a major shot in the arm.
McLeary, 34, carded a five-under-par 67 to win the KPMG Trophy by a shot at Les BonsVillers in Belgium. The Scot withstood a late charge by runner-up Taco Remkes to win the €25,600 first prize.
On a tight final day, 30 players were within three shots of the lead as the final group teed off. However, a superb front of 31 helped McLeary take a stranglehold on the event and propelled him into a four-shot lead.
Still, the chasing pack were not going down easy and, by the time he reached the 18th, McLeary’s lead had been cut to one. Requiring just a par for the title, the Edinburgh man duly delivered.
“I’m as happy as Larry,” he said. “I was actually more nervous at the start than at the finish. I hit a poor tee shot off the second and I got lucky. Normally when I’m nervous I don’t drive the ball well, and that happened today.
“I knew there were a lot of people close, and three shots can go in one hole if you make a mistake. I tried not to look at the leaderboards, and once I was three-under through four I knew I’d given myself a bit of a cushion.”
McLeary lost his European Tour last year after finishing 152nd on the Race to Dubai but he now has his sights set on returning to the top tier.
“This gets the monkey off my back as I’ve earned a sizeable chunk - it takes the pressure off a bit.”
Speaking about the season ahead, he added: “You don’t want to be going into the second half of the season chasing your tail. I’ll be able to go into the lucrative events at the end of the season able to relax a bit. I’ll go to the Rolex Trophy now, which is one of my favourite events, and the Grand Final and all the China events. I’m very happy.”