SURREY’S Ross McGowan sealed an emotional victory at the Italian Open with his first win in 11 years.
The Banstead Downs pro holed a 20-foot putt at the last to overcome playing partner Laurie Canter in a thrilling final day battle at Chervò Golf Club.
McGowan, who helped Surrey win both the English Boys and Men’s County Championship titles, said: “My head is going full blast at the moment.
“Obviously I’m very happy – not happy with the way I played particularly.
“But I got the ball in the hole, which in the past has been my nemesis. So it was nice to be able to do that this week.
“When I hit the bunker shot on 16, that came exactly how I saw it and it obviously went in.
“The putter has been good all week, so I felt like if I put it to six or eight feet at 18, I had a good chance of making birdie.
“To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about anything over that putt. I just looked at the hole. It was left edge, and obviously the rest is history.
“Neither of us played great. Laurie struggled a little with the putter but was much better tee-to-green than I was.
“But really I felt like the course didn’t suit me that much. It was quite long and I was hitting four or five-iron into most of the par fours – even yesterday I hit five-wood three or four times.
“Quite a few of the longer hitters were hitting six, seven or eight-irons in. So it was really a good week to make a lot of putts.”
Longer hitters had advantage – Ross
McGOWAN, who has won three times on the Challenge Tour, was not suprised when he found trouble on the fifth.
“Even when we played the practice round, I knew that fifth hole was going to be tough off the back tees – all depending on what the wind was doing when we got there,” he said.
“The front edge was right on the limit for my four-iron and three-iron is looking back edge or even longer.
“So you’re trying to fiddle something in there and find the middle of the green.
“But unfortunately I hit it in the water. It was nice to bounce back straight afterward with an eagle there.
McGowan also admitted he had no idea where the turnaround in his game that produced a first win in 11 years had come from.
He said: “I didn’t really foresee this. My form hasn’t been great.
“But I felt like I was playing better, definitely around the greens. I’m not sure I was expecting to be quite as bad as it was today. But at the same time it’s moving forward now.”
Putting saves the day for McGowan
McGOWAN, who beat Oliver Fisher to claim the 2006 English Amateur title, has suffered a number of niggling injuries which have hampered his career.
So he is looking forward to being able to plan his schedule after returning to the winner’s cricle.
Ross McGowan said: “I want to say thank you to Callaway for all their support over the last 10 years or so.
“I think I’m going to have to go now and have a nice big glass of red wine and think about what’s next.”
The 38-year-old holed a plethora of long-range putts throughout the week in Brescia.
And once again, the former England Amateur Champion had his putter to thank on the final day.
His chance looked to have gone when his tee shot found water at the long par three 14th hole. That left him one-over par for the day.
But a superb up-and-down from the drop zone kept him in the mix.
And birdies at the 16th – where he holed out from a greenside bunker – and 18th enabled him to card a one-under 71.
His 20-under par total secured his first European Tour title since the 2009 Madrid Masters.
He claimed the 2019 D+D Real Czech Challenge last summer, first win since a Sunshine Tour triumph in 2015
Disappointed Laurie: I had chance to Canter to victory
SOMERSET’S Canter had the chance to force a play-off with a birdie putt of his own just after Ross McGowan holed his third shot.
But the 30-year-old, who had a stellar amateur career around the time of McGowan’s first win, was left to rue missing out on his chance of a maiden title by just one shot.
Canter, who finished second at the Portugal Masters last month, said: “It was horrible.
“The front nine, I actually felt like I played alright to be honest.
“I hit the ball nice for most of the day, but I was just exposed on the greens and around the greens. I just didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel comfortable all day.
“I felt like I needed to get forward and then suddenly the bogey at five, I just got caught up in it. It’s disappointing.
“I think around here, you have little stretches of the golf course where you can get going, and I felt like every time I could drop a shot, I did.”
Ross added: “I didn’t really make a save and had a couple of bad three-putts. And you’re not going to win on the European Tour doing that, clearly.
“I felt like it was right there for me today. The tournament really opened up for me or Ross to win it.
“I was surprised to be honest, nobody behind really came at us. So it’s about as good an opportunity as you could ever have to win a tournament to be honest.
‘Time to reflect on good and bad parts of week in Italy’
“So I’ll just have to reflect on that and hopefully improve and go from there.
“I just need to be happy with the finish. It’s a good week and I played a lot of good golf. Hopefully I am going to have a long career out here.
“But days like that obviously hurt,” added Laurie, who won the South African Amateur and Spanish Amateur titles before turning pro in 2012.
‘I’ll need to just think for a little bit – for a day or two – and reflect on what I didn’t do today.
“Hopefully I can have an opportunity to put it right. I’d love to win obviously, but we’ll see.”
Canter has earned his card at European Tour Qualifying School in four of the last five years.
Colsearts close to adding Italian title to French win
FORMER Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts joined Canter in a share of second spot after the Belgian’s birdie at the par-five closing hole – his fifth of the day.
Last year’s French Open winner, who admits to playing well in October, started the day with a bogey.
Colsearts finished with a four-under par 68 to claim his best finish of the season.
He said: “I didn’t really make the ideal start. It was just a bit slow and I left a lot of putts short.
“I wasn’t really feeling that comfortable on the front nine. But then I figured if I made a blitz in I still would have had a chance.
“I made a few good putts in the last four or five holes to actually remain with a chance.
“But a wonderful way to finish from Ross McGowan so there’s no regrets at all.
“If I was quickly under par on the front nine, like three-under, that would have been a nice step to build on.
“But it wasn’t the case and I had to dig deep. I was still proud with how I fought until the end.
“It’s always great when you have a chance, especially on one of the old tournaments we get to play, one of the national opens.
“I always felt like I left a little bit of meat on the bones at this one, down the years. So it would have been a great one to add, but just not this time.”
•For final scores in the 2020 Italian Open click here.