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Flying Dutchman claims maiden win in France 

Flying Dutchman claims maiden win in France 

Lars van Meijel won his first European Challenge Tour title, carding a bogey-free final round of 67, five under par, to win the Hopps Open de Provence.

Lars van Meijel

The Dutchman, playing in just his second Challenge Tour season, only dropped one shot over the weekend at the Seve Ballesteros-designed Golf International de Pont Royal, recording rounds of 69-67-69-67 for a 16 under par total and a one stroke victory.

Van Meijel started the day as one of three overnight leaders alongside Canadian Aaron Cockerill and home favourite Antoine Rozner. While Cockerill and Rozner made mistakes on the front nine, van Meijel kept his cool and gained three shots ahead of the turn.

He maintained his form on the back nine as four consecutive pars were rewarded with a birdie at the par five 14th to remain in contention as players fought for position at the top of the leaderboard.

With Sebastian Heisele racing to the front and setting the target at 15 under par, van Meijel made one final birdie of the round at the 17th to move ahead of the German before two putts for par at the 72nd hole sealed the win.

“I’m speechless right now,” said van Meijel. “It feels incredible to win. I was grinding it out all day, trying to focus on every shot, and then you get to end, and realise you’ve managed to do.

“It hasn’t sunk it yet. It was the first time I was leading ahead of the final round. I’ve done it before but not on the Challenge Tour and that felt a lot different. I’m really happy to get across the line.

“I knew from yesterday that the scores would be changing all the time, so made sure to focus on my own game and try and go as low as possible. I felt 16 under par would be close to the winning score.

“After 12 holes I thought I would need to make a couple more birdies. I looked at the scoreboard on 17 and saw that Sebastian was in the clubhouse at 15 under but I had an eight foot putt for birdie, which I made and that felt great.

“At the start of the year I would’ve signed anything to have a Challenge Tour card and now I’m in a good position in the Rankings and that feels great.”

Heisele, who won on French soil at the Open de Bretagne three weeks ago, signed for a bogey-free round of 65, seven under par, to race up the leaderboard and finish a shot shy of van Meijel in second place.

Italy’s Francesco Laporta and Spaniard Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez shot rounds of 66 and 68, respectively, to claim a share of third place. While overnight leader Cockerill finished in a tie of fifth with Adrian Meronk and the leading Frenchman Robin Roussel.

With his victory, van Meijel moves inside the top 15 on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, from 37th to 14th, while Heisele is one place behind at 15th position jumping up from 31st.