Joel Sjöholm won the 2022 Hopps Open de Provence by three shots to return to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2017.
The Swede, who was runner-up at this event in 2018, held the 54-hole lead and secured his second European Challenge Tour title with a final round of 67.
In only his sixth start on the 2022 Road to Mallorca, Sjöholm recorded a weekend of score of 12 under par – the best final 36-hole score in the field – to claim his first win since the 2017 Italian Challenge Open by Lyoness.
“It feels amazing. I’ve had such a terrible season on both the DP World Tour and the Challenge Tour. It’s fantastic and it’s hard to describe with words,” he said.
“I’ve had so many good people around me lately who have helped push me forward because I’ve been close to quitting a few times but hats off to my wife, who keeps on sticking with me and is okay with me travelling so much, chasing my dreams. I can’t put into words what this win means – I’m extremely blessed and happy.”
The 37-year-old started the final round with a two-shot lead and picked up his first birdie of the day at the second hole. Following his only dropped shot of the day at the sixth, Sjöholm responded with three successive birdies to extend his lead.
Two final gains came at the 12th and 14th holes as the Swede returned home in two under par to clinch the title at the Seve Ballesteros-designed Golf International de Pont Royal.
“Every time I come here, I feel like this is one of those courses that suit me,” he added. “You have to think your way around here and when you’re not a big thinker in life this course forces you to step up and think. This golf course gives you so many different types of opportunities to go after holes if you want to but also to create a strategy.
“I told myself that if I go out and beat the two guys I was playing with then I’ll know I’ve had a good week. Of course, I would’ve liked to know what others were doing and with the scoring devices we have I could’ve looked, but I told myself I wouldn’t until we got to the 18th tee. When I saw that I was leading by three I put the driver straight back in the bag and a hybrid came out. I missed two short putts on 16 and 17 so I was trying to make par on 18, so I felt comfortable coming up 18 which was very nice.
“I can call my mum now and tell her to get off my back because she wants me to quit playing, so I can at least be one-up on her.”
South Africa’s Deon Germishuys and Daniel Brown of England shared second place on 14 under par, with Kiwi Daniel Hillier, who was aiming for back-to-back Challenge Tour wins, finishing a further shot behind. Meanwhile, Martin Simonsen recorded the lowest round of the week, an eight under par 64, to finish in fifth place.
With his win, Sjöholm jumped from 198th to 49th on the Road to Mallorca. The Road to Mallorca now heads to St. Mellion Estate for the British Challenge presented by Modest! Golf Management from October 6-9.