Jamie Donaldson became the new Mauritius Golf Open champion in fitting style on Sunday by rolling in a 25-foot putt at the last hole for birdie.
The 33-year-old Welshman who lives in Macclesfield, England, completed a closing round 67 to finish three strokes clear of pre-championship favourite Gregory Havret, of France.
But once again, the tournament lived up to its reputation of providing a dramatic finish at the closing hole.
When Havret, playing in the second last group, reached the 18th tee, he was level with Donaldson on 12-under-par, with the destiny of the trophy in their hands.
Havret hit his drive close to the lake on the right but in no obvious danger. However, he caught his attempted shot to the green a little thin and the ball flew into the lake to the right of the green.
After taking a penalty drop, the Frenchmen chipped poorly onto the green and a three-putt cost him a double-bogey.
Unaware of the drama unfolding ahead of him, Donaldson drove safely down the fairway but then left his lay-up a little short. His wedge to the green came up a long way from the pin but, now knowing the title was in his grasp, Donaldson sent the putt curling towards the hole and it never looked like missing.
“I’m delighted to have won this tournament,” said Donaldson after signing for his 67. “It may not be the biggest field but there is quality at the top end and a lot of decent players trying to win.”
The Welshman then revealed that he had been troubled by a stiff back later in the round: “It was a bit iffy,” he said, “and I had to nurse myself round a bit. I couldn’t quite commit to some shots but my game was good and I felt confident that I could win.
“I don’t normally play so well when it is hot and I tried to get in the shade as much as possible, and that helped. But I had a game plan and I stuck to it and it saw me through.”
Donaldson started the day on eight-under-par and a shot behind second-round leaders Sebastian Delagrange and Jean-Francois Remesy.
Havret was also eight-under, although he was in the group ahead, a group that included South African Justin Hobday, who had shot an exceptional 64 in the second round.
But one by one the challengers began to slip out of contention.
Delagrange was the first to slip back when he topped his drive at the second into the lake in front of the tee. He was never able to recover from that double-bogey.
Remesy and Donaldson both parred the short third at which point reports came through that Havret had birdied each of the opening three holes to go 10-under-par and into the lead.
A wonderful eagle for Donaldson at the par-five fourth, when he chipped in from off the green, and an up-and-down from the left-hand bunker for birdie by Remesy took them to 10-under as well.
At the fifth, Hobday went to nine-under with a 20-yard putt across the green but that was to be his last blow he would land in pursuit of glory.
Birdies for Remesy and Donaldson at the sixth took them to 11-under while moments earlier, Havret and fluffed a greenside chip at the same hole and had to settle for par.
That is how the situation stayed until the ninth, where Remesy’s approach finished 18 inches from the pin and Donaldson’s 30-foot short.
However, the Welshman rolled in a superb putt and although Remesy holed his short putt, his expected advantage never materialised.
Until then, Remesy had been suffering with a number of putts that had just caught the edge of the hole but at the 11th, he sent a 15-foot uphill effort straight into the middle for birdie to move ahead at 13-under.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he then dropped a shot at the next, a hole that Havret birdied, and when Donaldson’s birdie putt lipped out, there was only one stroke separating the top three contenders.
The 14th hole was to prove significant. Donaldson did not hit the best of drives and finished with a poor lie on the right and with a blind shot to the green. Remesy was in a much better position on the fairway.
However, it was Donaldson who produced a wonderful nine-iron strike, over the trees that obscured his view and onto the green from 165 yards out.
Remesy’s approach flew to the back of the green, took one bounce on the bank and shot into undergrowth beyond. His chip simply found the uphill slope to the putting surface and a double-bogey to Donaldson’s par changed the complexion of the contest.
Remesy dropped another shot at the 15th, effectively ending his challenge and that left Donaldson and Havret on 12-under.
The situation remained the same as both men carded pars at the next two holes. But just as it seemed the first play-off in Mauritius Golf Open history was looming, fate took a hand at the 18th and Donaldson emerged a deserved victor.