Italy’s Renato Paratore has fended off strong challenges from English duo Chris Wood and defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim the Nordea Masters in Sweden by a single stroke.
The Italian entered the final day a shot behind Wood and showed real guts to save par on each of the last three holes before signing for a 70 and an 11 under total, leaving Wood needing a 72nd hole par to force a play-off.
With the 20 year old looking on from the clubhouse, Wood hit a ragged tee-shot into the trees and carded a bogey as Paratore became the youngest winner on Tour since countryman and GolfSixes partner Matteo Manassero won the BMW PGA Championship in 2013. This was Paratore’s first European Tour victory.
Fitzpatrick had birdied the last to sign for a 68 and set the target at ten under on a rainy day at Barseback Country Club but ultimately fell a single shot short of a play-off.
South African George Coetzee and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen finished at nine under par, a shot clear of Frenchman Matthieu Pavon.
RIGHT: Paratore's patience during the final round showed a maturity beyond his years. PHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Paratore's victory comes in his 83rd appearance and will move him into the top 150 in the world ranking.
“I feel really great. The first win, I will remember this my entire life. Also to be here at a nice tournament like this with this crowd has been really good,” Peratore said.
“It feels amazing to be in the winner’s circle with Italians like the Molinaris, Manassero and Rocca.
“It was a little bit stressful for me at the end. Chris is a really solid player so I was expecting a play-off. Then when he made a bogey I was a little bit less stressed!
“I played really well the first day here, and on the third day. Today I really had to keep a good attitude because I didn’t play well. But the short game helped me a lot today.
“On the 8th and 9th holes I made two birdies to get back to one under. That gave me a lot of confidence. Then on the last three holes I had three good pars without hitting the ball very well.
“The tee shots were not easy, I wasn’t hitting very well from the tee. But then I was putting and chipping well, so it was good.”
Coetzee started the final day seven shots off the lead but set the course record with a brilliant 66 containing nine birdies, the last of which was a stunning chip-in on the 15th.
He still held the lead as the final group started the back nine and at one point there was a five-way tie for the lead between Coetzee, Jamie Donaldson, Olesen, Wood and Paratore.
It was the latter two who broke out of the pack as they recovered from shaky starts, but Wood said his “flaws” were exposed under pressure over the closing holes.
“That round probably summarised how I felt my game was this week. It was a little bit scrappy with some really good stuff in there as well. All week I feel like I’ve been fighting my swing and probably surprised myself with a lot of the good shots I hit this week. Your flaws come out when you’re under pressure,” he said, referring to his wayward drive at the final hole that led to a bogey.
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“It’s obviously disappointing, but I’m sure after a couple of days I’ll think, well it’s some points on the board and should nudge me back into the US Open in a few weeks time, and that’s what I came here to do really.
“Overall we’ve had a great week, but it’s hard when you can’t close it out. We all hit bad shots but considering my start I battled away like I always do, but yeah it’s quite hard to take.”
Victoria’s Richard Green had a closing one under 72 to finish at two under and grabbed a share of 30th place.
Queenslander Scott Hend was the next best Aussie at one over and T47 after having occupied a spot in the top-10 through the first two rounds.