Adrian Otaegui beats Benjamin Hebert in the final of the Belgian Knockout

Last Updated May 21 2018, 08:01Golf
Adrian Otaegui with the Belgian Knockout trophy
Adrian Otaegui with the Belgian Knockout trophy

Adrian Otaegui, who was tipped at 40/1 by our Ben Coley prior to the tournament, defeated Benjamin Hebert in the final of the Belgian Knockout in Antwerp.

Otaegui, who won the Paul Lawrie Match Play event last year, birdied four of the last six holes to beat Hebert by two shots at Rinkven International Golf Club.

Scotland's David Drysdale, who had earlier lost to Otaegui in the semi-finals, defeated England's James Heath by a shot in the third/fourth place play-off.

A nervous start to the final saw both players bogey the opening hole, but Hebert quickly settled and moved a shot clear thanks to a birdie from 15 feet on the next.

Otaegui then enjoyed a major slice of luck when his tee shot on the fourth skirted the edge of a water hazard and clung onto dry land, from where he hit a superb approach to set up a tap-in birdie.

A birdie from much longer range on the next then edged Otaegui in front and after both men birdied the short seventh, Otaegui made it four birdies in the space of five holes on the eighth to double his advantage.

And with Hebert unable to produce any fireworks on the last, a par was good enough to give Otaegui a two-shot win and the first prize of £145,000.

"I'm very happy, very relaxed now after those last nine holes against Ben that were very tight," Otaegui said. "I think we both played very good golf and I'm just very proud about my week.

"It's not exactly the same format as last year [Paul Lawrie's event] so I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I tried to focus on my game, it's still stroke play and I did very well at the end."

Asked about his chances of qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team, which will be captained by Thomas Bjorn in Paris, Otaegui joked: "Thomas, if you're looking at me, I like match play!

"There's still a lot of season to go, obviously the good events coming now with the Rolex Series and lots of points. The season is still very long but yeah, I'm looking for Ryder Cup in a few months."

Tournament host Thomas Pieters, whose sister and brother-in-law promoted the event, admitted the week had given him a new appreciation for what goes into staging a European Tour tournament.

"It's been tough," Pieters said. "I definitely am going to pay a lot more respect to people, knowing how much work goes into every tournament on the European Tour. This is only a small one, next week [BMW PGA Championship] is one of our biggest so I can only imagine how much work goes into that.

"Feedback has been nothing but positive. Some players told me maybe change a couple of holes and it makes sense but all in all it's been a great week. It's exceeded our expectations how many people [spectators] came out and it's great for the sport of golf and Belgian golf."

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