Richie Ramsay of Scotland picked up his third European Tour title with a one-stroke victory over Frenchman Romain Wattel in the Trophee Hassan II at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, Morocco.
It was a roller-coaster final round in Agadir as Ramsay took an early lead, blew it, regained it and then clung on to it down the stretch. Ramsay claimed the €250,000 winner’s cheque, plus a jewel-encrusted gold dagger that goes to the champion of this event each year.
Tied for the lead after 54-holes, the Scotsman reeled off four straight birdies from the third hole to build a commanding advantage over the chasing pack in the final round. But he then bogeyed the 7th hole and suffered a disaster on the par-3 8th.
He missed the green and left himself a testing pitch. He made a mess of it twice, before his third effort finally found the putting surface. Two more putts and he’d racked up a triple-bogey six.
But, showing great resolve, Ramsay knuckled down on the run for home and played the back nine in three-under-par to post a clubhouse total of 10-under-par. Only Romain Wattel had a chance to match that number, but when he failed to chip in from the side of the 18th green, the title was Richie Ramsay’s.
Four things we learned at the Trophee Hassan II:
1. Richie Ramsay hadn’t won on the European Tour since the Omega European Masters of 2012. The 31-year-old former U.S. Amateur Champion has struggled with injuries and had dropped to 128th on the Official World Golf Ranking. Coming into this event, the Scot had played five events on the 2015 European Tour and had failed to complete four rounds in any of them. This win puts him right back in the hunt for this year’s Race to Dubai and has moved him back into the top 75 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
2. There was disappointment for George Coetzee of South Africa. The winner of the Tshwane Open two weeks ago, he had needed to win again in Morocco to climb into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking and earn a start in the U.S. Masters. He made a brave effort to do just that, but in the end came up two strokes shy, finishing the week in a tie for third place.
3. Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal will take great confidence into Augusta after firing a closing round of 66 in Agadir and climbing the leaderboard into a tie for ninth place. It was the 150th time the two-time Masters champion has finished in the top 10 on the European Tour. Now aged 49, it was Olazabal’s best result on the circuit since the Irish Open of 2013.
4. The course and conditions proved to be some of the toughest seen on the European Tour in 2015. With narrow fairways and gusting winds, the scoring reflected the challenge. There were no fewer than 24 rounds of 80 or more posted through the week. England’s Daniel Gaunt opened with a fine first round of 66 to sit just one off the lead. But he followed it up with a round of 82 – 16 shots worse! And he still only missed the cut by two strokes.