Romain Wattel finally tastes victory with KLM win
Frenchman claims first title in 187 events; Paul Dunne completes strong weekend show with 66
Romain Wattel of France is sprayed with champagne on the 18th green after winning the KLM Open at The Dutch in Spijk, Netherlands. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Romain Wattel finally tasted victory on the European Tour at the 187th time of asking as the Frenchman held off the challenge of Kiradech Aphibarnrat at the KLM Open in the Netherlands.
Wattel, who had not recorded a top-20 finish all season prior to ending his title drought at The Dutch, was level with Thailand’s Aphibarnrat for much of the back nine but saw his challenger find water twice in the last four holes, with both leading to double bogeys.
That meant a par at the last was enough for the 26-year-old to secure victory with a 15-under total following a closing round of 69.
Wattel won by one from fast-finishing Canadian Austin Connelly, who shot six birdies en route to signing for a 66, with former world number one Lee Westwood part of a six-way tie for third at 13 under.
Ireland’s Paul Dunne completed a fine weekend, adding a five-under 66 to Saturday’s 65 to secure a share of 14th position on 11 under. Pádraig Harrington closed with a two-under 69 to finish on three under.
Reacting to his victory, Wattel said: “I came to this tournament, I was playing poorly to be honest. Last week I struggled with my game.
“I am happy with the way I played all week. It’s been a very nice weekend.
“I’ve been putting really bad the last two years – I think I’m a really good putter but the last two years were tough for me.
“I never thought about the score, I just tried to play my best. I was just trying to be as high as I could on the leaderboard but it was very tight. I just tried to play my own game.”
Wattel had recorded 25 top-10 finishes in his previous 186 events without tasting victory, and surpassed overnight leader Aphibarnrat with three birdies in his first six holes.
A dropped shot on the eighth was recovered on the 10th and, although Wattel bogeyed the next, he remained in the hunt by parring his way in as others fell away.
Aphibarnrat briefly led when he birdied the 14th but he found water at the next and double-bogeyed before suffering the same fate at the last as he attempted to put pressure on Wattel by reaching the green at the par five in two.
Westwood never threatened to end his three-year European Tour title drought during the final round, although he did birdie the last to sign for a 69 and finish alongside compatriot Eddie Pepperell, France’s Joel Stalter, German Sebastian Heisele and South Africans George Coetzee and Justin Walters.