SURREY’S Paul Casey dedicated an emotional 14th European Tour title to the late Gordon Brand Junior after securing his first victory in Europe in five years at the Porsche European Open.
The 42-year-old, who last won on European soil at the KLM Open in 2014, carded a flawless six under par final round of 66.
That meant Casey finished one stroke ahead of Robert MacIntyre, Matthias Schwab and Bernd Ritthammer at Green Eagle Golf Courses, in Hamburg, Germany.
Casey dedicated the win to two-time European Open champion Gordon Brand Jnr, whose funeral will be held on Monday after passing away last month at the age of 60.
The last player to win the English Amateur Championship back to back in 2000 the year year he turned pro, Casey said: “I’ll be dedicating this to Gordon Brand Jnr, without question.
“This is an incredibly prestigious trophy with a lot of history to it on the European Tour. I’m over the moon and so happy to be Porsche European Open champion.
“I volunteered at this event at Walton Heath in 1991 – as a standard bearer – walking around the golf course. Walton Heath is not far from where I grew up as a kid.
“I never thought I’d be sitting here with the trophy, which is very, very cool,” added Casey, who was a member at Burhill Golf Club, in Weybridge, back in the 1990s, when he was also in Surrey’s junior cricket coaching scheme.
“I’ve been lucky to win at Wentworth, and to win this one feels very special. We had some great players in the field, and the young players pushed us older guys right to the end.
“I’d been away from the Tour for a few years, since then I’ve had a couple of wins in the US.
“The Ryder Cup last year is part of the highlight package. I feel good about that – age is just a number.
“I feel as fit at 42 as I’ve ever felt. I have an understanding of my golf game and a lot of enthusiasm. I love working hard for it and the quest of being as good as I can be.”
The Englishman started the final round one stroke behind MacIntyre and Ritthammer, but pulled clear as he carded his fifth and sixth birdies on the 16th and 17th holes on the Porsche Nord Course.
Bernd Wiesberger, hunting his third win of the season, set the early clubhouse lead on 12-under after a course record-breaking eight-under round of 64 – eventually settling for fifth place.
Schwab eagled the last to move to 13 under par and was joined by MacIntyre and Ritthammer on that number in second place.
It is MacIntyre’s third runner-up finish in his rookie season, while both Schwab and Ritthammer recorded their best results of their careers thus far on the European Tour.
MacIntyre, who was making his Walker Cup debut two years ago in Los Angeles, said: “It’s been brilliant.
“Obviously disappointed in the end, but if someone had given me that in the last round I thought it would have been enough, but it just wasn’t to be.”
“I didn’t really know where I was walking up 15, I saw Paul was holing putts. I had to ask one of the camera crew where we were.
“It’s a learning experience again – it’s my third second place this year. We’re getting closer and closer but can’t seem to get over that line yet.
Ritthammer said: “I’m going to Amsterdam next week to play the KLM Open, hopefully I take my same game there.
“I’ve been a pro for a long time and there haven’t been thoughts now and then if I’ve made the right career choice.
“Thirteen years as a pro and never won on the European Tour and never kept my card, always lost it after getting it. It makes you think. This week showed me I might still be on the right path.”
Austrian Schwab said: “I got off to a nice start with two-under through three. I made a bogey on four but kept my head high, hit a couple of decent golf shots.
“My approach into 18 was good and the eagle was nice. Overall it was a good day of golf for me.”
•Hampshire’s Scott Gregory, who also made his Walker Cup in the USA two years ago, made his best finish of the season, despite a two-over par 74.
The Corhampton Golf Club member – who played alongside Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington on Sunday – finished in a share of 28th, earning €17,800.
That was his biggest cheque since winning his card at last year’s European Tour Qualifying School having made his first cut in 15 attempts in 2019.