Marcus Kinhult edged closer to qualifying for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after moving into the top 20 of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings following his superb maiden victory at the Betfred British Masters.
The Swede, who secured a return to the European Tour in 2017 by finishing in the top 15 of the Challenge Tour Rankings, found himself one shot behind Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, defending champion Eddie Pepperell and Englishman Matt Wallace standing on the 17th tee, but hauled himself level with an impressive birdie from ten feet. The 22-year-old followed that with a remarkable approach into the 18th before holding his nerve to hole the birdie putt to clinch his first professional victory by one stroke on 16 under par in Southport, England.
“I’ve been dreaming about it for such a long time and to finally do it is sort of amazing,” said Kinhult, who collects 710 Race to Dubai points which leapfrogs him from 169th to 19th in the Rankings.
“It was so close all day between us. It was a bit like a match play between me and Matt and then Bob and Eddie played well on the back nine today. They were up there, as well. But it was nice to play with Matt. He’s a great guy and a good competitor. So yeah, it was good fun.”
Pepperell was bidding to become the first man since Greg Norman in 1982 to defend his title at the tournament but fell just short following his brilliant final round six under par 66 to finish in a share of second with Wallace and MacIntyre. The trio pick up 316.7 Race to Dubai points which sees Wallace jump up to eighth from 18th, MacIntyre climb to 36th from 91st and Pepperell surge from 117th to 41st in the Rankings.
“It was a good round, very steady, really,” said two-time European Tour winner Pepperell.”I only hit a couple of bad shots but it was very steady. The whole week, I only made two bogeys actually which for me is remarkable.
“I kind of set myself a target of 17 (under) around the turn. I expected those guys to get to 17 in the end. They were not far off that. Pins weren’t easy today and the pressure at the end playing with those guys, you can never be too sure. But fair play to Marcus. He’s been a good player for a while, so it is good to see.”
Meanwhile, Scotsman Richie Ramsay propelled himself from 146th to 72nd in the Rankings after finishing four shots behind to complete the top five and collect 180 points towards his season tally.
English duo Jordan Smith and Paul Waring shared sixth place on 11 under par which moves Smith up to 27th from 40th while Waring goes ones better and climbs to 26th from 35th after both players picked up 138.1 Race to Dubai points.
Tournament host and 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood shared eighth place with six other players including two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer and former Oman Open winner Joost Luiten. Fleetwood moves up five places from 48th to 43rd, Kaymer jumps up to 85th from 107th while Luiten remains in 16th in the Rankings.
The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US$8millionDP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 where US$3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest prize in world tournament golf.