Italy’s Andrea Pavan produced a blistering back nine of 31 at the Albatross Golf Resort to sign for 67 and a tournament record 22 under par to win the D + D Real Czech Masters by two strokes.
Pavan, 29, ousted three-time major champion Padraig Harrington in Prague as he claimed his maiden title by two strokes and all but sealed a maiden berth in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in the process.
The former Challenge Tour player, who topped the Rankings in 2013 and is familiar with Dubai having finished tied fourth at the Challenge Tour Grand Final at Al Badia Golf Club that year, looks set for a spot in the field at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November.
The tournament is open only to the top 60 players and Pavan took a step towards appearing after claiming 195,830 points to move from 53rd place to 39th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings.
Pavan, who played back on the Challenge Tour last season before regaining his European Tour card at Qualifying School, said: “It’s amazing, it’s massive. I’ve won four times on the Challenge Tour but it was a long time ago,” said the Rome native.
“I’ll enjoy this one because it’s really hard to get and I’ll just keep working on the stuff that seems to be working and enjoy the success.
“I’m going back home tomorrow and we’re having a second baby, a little girl is coming on Wednesday. We’re really excited about that and I can’t wait to celebrate with my family.”
“Andrea is a great example of a player learning his trade on the Challenge Tour before going on to show his class on the European Tour,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International Dubai Office.
“It takes some players longer to find their feet but he’s certainly done that this season and we’re delighted that Andrea will be joining us for the grand finale of the Race to Dubai.”
Harrington and Pavan were tied for the lead heading into the final round and the esteemed Irishman looked to be on his way to his 16th European Tour title when he led by three at the turn, but a back nine of 36 saw him sign for 69 to finish two strokes back from his emphatic playing partner.
The Ryder Cup vice captain gained 130,550 points to move from 204th to 143rd in the Race to Dubai while Malaysia’s Gavin Green took third place alone for 73,555 points which moves him from 99th to 80th.
England’s Lee Slattery is on the precipice of a third DP World Tour Championship appearance – and first since 2015 – with a solid closing round of 68 to share fourth place with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson at 15 under par.
The pair each gained 54,285 points which sees Slattery move from 50th to 45th in the Race to Dubai while Jamieson improves his position from 128th to 120th.
The top three in the Race to Dubai remains unchanged with Italy’s Francesco Molinari leading the way on 4,635,909 points, the USA’s Patrick Reed in second place and reigning Race to Dubai champion, England’s Tommy Fleetwood, in third place.
The DP World Tour Championship takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday to Sunday, November 15-18.
Dubai Duty Free, the world-renowned airport retail operator, has entered a new era in its commitment to the European Tour and the development of worldwide golf, becoming an Official Partner to the Tour in a four-year agreement.
The Official Partnership follows the announcement in May that Dubai Duty Free has extended its title sponsorship of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in a similar deal, which is expected to take the naming rights of the event through to 2022.
Dubai Duty Free joins Rolex, BMW, Emirates, Hilton and Titleist on the exclusive list of Official Partners to the European Tour, gaining global exposure at select European Tour events, and across the European Tour’s platforms, including its award-winning social media channels.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are pleased to join a stellar list of companies to become an official partner of European Tour. We have identified marketing opportunities for our brand across several tournaments as well as digital elements that will enable us to engage with our global customers. We are very excited about this partnership going forward and believe it will enhance our existing sponsorship portfolio.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour, said: “Dubai Duty Free have been invaluable partners to the European Tour through their title sponsorship of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“This agreement marks an important evolution of our partnership and we are thrilled to welcome Dubai Duty Free to the European Tour Official Partner family. We look forward to working closely with them in future to build their brand awareness and achieve their goal of supporting sport globally.”
In 2017, the European Tour heralded a new era for the game as eight prestigious events were elevated to Rolex Series status, each event carrying a minimum US$7 million prize fund and benefiting from significant enhancements across the board – from fan experience to digital content.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open was one of those tournaments, marking another milestone in the event’s extensive growth since Dubai Duty Free came on board in 2015, along with Rory McIlroy and his charitable foundation as tournament hosts.
Their title sponsorship of the island of Ireland’s national Open was the culmination of a long and fruitful relationship with the European Tour which began back in 1989, when the United Arab Emirates city was first put on the golfing map with the introduction of the Dubai Desert Classic.
That relationship continued to bloom over the next four decades as Dubai became an increasingly integral destination to the tour’s significant growth. Dubai Duty Free’s backing extended to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship upon the tournament’s introduction – along with the Race to Dubai – in 2009, before taking the big step in 2015 to assume title-sponsorship of one of golf’s most historic national Opens.
Dubai Duty Free’s Official Partnership with the European Tour continues the company’s wide-ranging and substantial support of global sport which includes the famous Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the prestigious Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
The 35-year-old started the final day seven shots adrift of compatriot Marcus Kinhult and was still off the pace as he made the turn in 35 with the groups behind him jostling over top spot.
But after making birdies at the 12th, 16th and 17th, Noren entered the clubhouse with the lead at seven-under-par after signing for four-under-par 67.
American Julian Suri held a one shot lead standing on the 18th tee box but made a disastrous double-bogey at the last to hand Noren his first European Tour win of the season at Le Golf National – the home of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Noren picks up 1,166,660 Race to Dubai points with his triumph and climbs up to second from eighth place in the Race to Dubai rankings.
Remarkably, Noren’s last victory also came from seven strokes back at the 2017 BMW PGA Championship – the inaugural Rolex Series event – where he carded a magical 62 on the final day to seal victory at Wentworth Club.
With another comeback win under his belt, he now has his sights firmly set on making Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup squad.
“If I were to be a part of Ryder Cup Team Europe it would mean a lot,” said the ten-time European Tour winner.
“I have good memories from this course. The first two years I came here I never thought I would be able to win but the last three years I’ve had good results. This will definitely boost my chances for making the squad.”
“It’s fantastic to see Alex back in the European Tour winners’ circle at such a prestigious event,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai.
“Having graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2007, Alex has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the leading European players in world golf.
“He is a great role model for players in golf’s lower ranks and we look forward to welcoming him back to Jumeirah Golf Estates for the European Tour finale in November.”
Meanwhile, Suri, England’s Chris Wood and Scotsman Russell Knox finish tied for second to collect 521,990 Race to Dubai points and secure their places in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Suri jumps from 68th to 22nd while Wood moves up to 21st from 53rd. Knox makes significant strides from 84th to 25th.
Kinhult, who had been leading after the second and third round, shot five-over-par 76 in the final day to finish in a tie for fifth to pick up 250,600 points which moves him up to 39th from 62nd.
England’s Matthew Southgate was also a big mover in the rankings as he surged from 122nd to 50th on 397,454 points after a spectacular final round of five-under-par saw him join Kinhult in a tie for fifth.
American Patrick Reed leads the Race to Dubai rankings with 2,785,884 points while England’s reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood drops down to third following Noren’s victory.
The DP World Tour Championship takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 15-18.