285th time lucky: Richard McEvoy birdies final hole to win his first European Tour title at the Porsche European Open – just a week after claiming his third win on the Challenge Tour.
Richard McEvoy couldn’t have been a more popular winner on Sunday. The 39-year-old finally lifted his first European Tour trophy on his 285th attempt, and he did it with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“It’s incredible,” McEvoy said. “I’ve waited a long time, 17 years as a pro on and off the tour. I’m absolutely over the moon.
“I just had to carry on believing until that last putt. I kept thinking seize the day, seize the day a couple of times today to give myself a little kick and I certainly did that on the last.”
McEvoy has only managed to keep his card twice since first joining the European Tour after winning Q-school in 2003, and it’s been a long journey that has seen him come throught the Challenge Tour on two occasions and Q-school on six.
In those 17 years, McEvoy had won just two Challenge Tour titles until two weeks ago, one coming in 2017 and the other in 2005. Now, his win guarantees him a two-year exemption.
The European Tour journey talked about how a boost in confidence and a change in attitude to try and enjoy the game more led to a wire-to-wire victory at last week’s Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge, before earning his maiden title on the European Tour.
“I’ve tried to enjoy my golf as much as possible. Not that I haven’t been but I just needed to that little bit more and it’s just come up proper trumps.
“It started a couple of weeks ago, I played a pro-am at Queenwood and shot 64 – a course record – and beat the likes of Rory, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and a few other boys and that was the start of the confidence kick, really. Last week was obviously another boost to the confidence and I’ve come good again this week.”
The Englishman battled against playing partner and joint overnight leader Bryson DeChambeau for much of the day, until the young American unravelled down the stretch.
McEvoy started with five pars and while he dropped a shot after finding water on the sixth, a stunning approach to the seventh kept him two ahead. He then found sand on the eighth to drop into a share of the lead with DeChambeau at the turn after a two-shot swing and the field were closing in.
He quickly dropped back thanks to back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th to hand DeChambeau a one-shot advantage, but while McEvoy rallied with a birdie on the 15th, Dechambeau began to unravel.
DeChambeau dropped five shots in his final four holes, including back to back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes before an excruciating triple bogey on the last hole of the day to finish his tournament with a six-over 78.
McEvoy dropped another shot on the 17th to find himself in a tie for first with a cluster of other players, needing to birdie the last for victory or a par to force a play-off. He did the former, rolling in a final birdie on the par-five 18th – a relative surprise given his putter hadn’t been the strongest part of his game during the final round.
“I fought hard, I believed, and even at the last I overpowered my caddie to lay it up to give myself the best opportunity to make birdie and I managed to do it,” McEvoy said of his approach to the last.
“It’s incredible. A lot of hard work, a lot of bad years, a lot of good years but it’s never quite happened and it was my time on that 18th green today.
Japan’s Hideto Tanihara and Frenchman Romain Wattel finished at nine under, a shot clear of England’s Paul Casey and Austrian Matthias Schwab.
Masters Tournament champion Patrick Reed was then at seven under alongside fellow Augusta winner Charl Schwartzel, Scot David Drysdale and England’s Matthew Nixon, one ahead of a group containing DeChambeau.