Celtic Classic: Sam Horsfield claims quick-fire European Tour double with Celtic Manor victory

Sam Horsfield wins the Celtic Classic at Celtic Manor

Sam Horsfield made it two wins in three weeks on the European Tour as he claimed the Celtic Classic in the darkness at Celtic Manor.

Leaderboard

-18 Horsfield

-16 Detry

-15 Johnston, Pieters, Syme

-14 Catlin, Horsey, Meronk, Valimaki

Round four report

England's Sam Horsfield shrugged off a two-hour weather delay to claim his second European Tour title in the space of three weeks in the Celtic Classic.

Horsfield carded a closing 67 at Celtic Manor to finish 18 under par and two shots ahead of Belgium's Thomas Detry, a repeat of their finishing positions in the Hero Open at Hanbury Manor.

Overnight leader Connor Syme finished in a tie for third on 15 under alongside Thomas Pieters and Andrew Johnston as play finished in near darkness.

An emotional Horsfield had struggled to speak after his maiden win but told Sky Sports: "This time I can speak.

"It was pretty crazy. My goal this weekend was to have no bogeys and I was able to do that, made a huge putt on 17 to keep that alive. I just played solid all week and to have a nice cushion coming to the last was nice.

"I never really felt nervous or uncomfortable, maybe because I was in the situation a few weeks ago. The birdie on 14 was huge because it gave me the option to lay-up on 15, where there is so much trouble."

Horsfield began the day a shot behind Scotland's Syme, but birdied the third, fourth and seventh to open up a three-shot lead before play was halted due to the threat of lightning.

When play eventually resumed two hours later, Syme closed the gap to a single shot thanks to birdies on the ninth and 11th, but Horsfield doubled his lead thanks to a birdie putt on the 14th which only dropped into the hole on its last roll.

Needing to make up ground, Syme went for the green on the short par-four 15th but two clumsy chips resulted in a costly bogey.

Syme looked like getting back into contention following a superb tee shot on

the 17th after Horsfield had missed the green.

However, Horsfield holed from 20 feet for par after a poor chip and Syme missed his birdie attempt from close range.

Round three report

Connor Syme leapt from 10th to first in the Celtic Classic after a brilliant Saturday 63 at Celtic Manor.

The Scottish youngster was bogey-free for the second day in succession, carding eight birdies to climb to the top of the leaderboard.

Thomas Pieters spent much of the day in front and led by three after his second eagle of the day at the 11th, but the Belgian dropped four shots in two holes late on and fell down into seventh.

That left Sam Horsfield as Syme's nearest pursuer after the recent winner made three birdies in a round of 68 which once again earned him a place in the final group.

Sebastian Soderberg is in third place, with Andrew Johnston, Thomas Detry and Adrian Meronk sharing fourth, three off Syme's lead.

Four back to start the day, Syme made three forward steps on the front-nine but was still some way off those out in front, until a sparkling back-nine.

Birdies at the 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 17th holes saw him take advantage of Pieters' slip and while a final chance went begging at the last, it was nevertheless the round of the day.

"I just played lovely, to be honest," he said. "It’s obviously very nice conditions and I got off to a decent start. I maybe didn’t play the front nine as well as I’d like but I managed to get to three under through nine, which was great. I holed the putts that I had opportunities on so it was a nice base to build on. It was nice throughout, really.

"I felt like I played well in Austria, the first event back, but then a bit slow after that to start the UK Swing. I’m finding a bit of form. I made the cut at the Hero Open and then gradually a little bit better last week. I found something a little bit in my swing and I’m just rolling with that really."

Round two report

England's Sam Horsfield is in pole position to claim his second European Tour title in the space of three weeks after a roller-coaster finish to day two of the Celtic Classic.

Horsfield, who won the Hero Open at Hanbury Manor a fortnight ago, holed a bunker shot for a birdie on the 16th, ran up a triple bogey on the 17th and then eagled the last at Celtic Manor in a second round of 64.

At 11 under par, the Florida-based 23-year-old holds a one-shot lead over Belgium's Thomas Pieters, with Andrew Johnston, Callum Shinkwin and Thomas Detry another stroke adrift on nine under.

Speaking about his five-wood approach to the 18th, Horsfield said: "It's funny, we had the exact same number into 17 at Forest of Arden when I won so I hit the exact same shot and made the putt for eagle.

"The 17th was not great but I bounced back after that triple to get myself into a good position for tomorrow. I've been in contention, I know what the feelings are like and I'm really looking forward to it."

Overnight leader Pieters, who is playing his first event for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic and the birth of his first child in July, added a 68 to his opening 64 despite finding the water with his approach to the 18th.

Johnston recovered from a nightmare start to his second round to add a 66 to his opening 67 thanks to a blistering finish at the 2010 Ryder Cup venue.

The 31-year-old ran up a triple-bogey seven on the first and dropped another shot on the fifth, but then birdied three of the next four holes and covered the back nine in just 29 shots with an eagle and four more birdies.

"Yesterday (Thursday) evening I wasn't happy the way I was hitting the ball, spent an hour and a half on the range and just said to myself, 'I've tried everything let's just play and see what happens,'" Johnston said.

"If I play good, great, if I don't so be it. I know I'm doing the right things, it's just a matter of patience that just freed me up and let me play.

"It's still not quite right. Sometimes you can not play your best and score really well but I don't want to rest on that, I want to improve on the weekend with my ball-striking."

Shinkwin, who collapsed to a closing 81 in the English Championship on Sunday, carded seven birdies and one bogey in a 65 and said: "I'm very happy to be fair.

"I had a bit of a bad round last week on the Sunday and my game just went wrong. I had a couple of days off to recover and on Wednesday I was just working hard on my game. I did everything that I needed to do correctly, everything went right and I didn't really make any poor swings either."

Round one report

New father Thomas Pieters marked his return to European Tour action in style with an opening seven-under-par 64 in the Celtic Classic.

Pieters was one over par after five holes of his first round at Celtic Manor, but he played the remaining 13 in eight under and stormed home in just 29 shots to hold a one-shot lead over England's Toby Tree and Australian Jake McLeod.

"It was pretty good," Pieters said with considerable understatement. "I putted well, just kept my ball in play and didn't get myself in any trouble really."

Pieters had not played competitively since early March due to the coronavirus lockdown, during which time his girlfriend gave birth to their first child, Florence.

"It's been fantastic," former Ryder Cup player Pieters added. "I miss my little baby girl, but I'm thankful I can play golf right now; first time back in five months it feels nice to get out there and put a score down."

The lockdown has also resulted in Pieters sporting the kind of long hair more often associated with Tommy Fleetwood and he added: "My mum said the same, my girlfriend says the same.

"I've just been really lazy and I don't feel like sitting in a hairdresser for like two hours with a mask on. If someone wants to cut it, go ahead!"

Italy's Edoardo Molinari and Scotland's Marc Warren were part of a seven-way tie for fourth on five under, with Hero Open winner Sam Horsfield and Nicolas Colsaerts among a large group on four under.

Molinari, who has twice finished fourth in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor and was part of Europe's winning Ryder Cup side here in 2010, said: "It's always nice coming back here, obviously I have great memories. But it's a golf course that definitely suits my eye.

"I've had a good few finishes in the past, so it's good memories from the Ryder Cup and other tournaments."

The day's action was partly overshadowed by the news that France's Alex Levy has become the first European Tour player to test positive for Covid-19 following his withdrawal from the event.

Levy initially tested negative after informing tournament officials that a friend he had met at home in France over the weekend had tested positive for the virus, but he was re-tested and returned a positive result.

The 30-year-old must now self-isolate for 14 days and fellow player Romain Wattel was also withdrawn from the event after being identified as one of Levy's contacts at Celtic Manor.

Wattel and Levy's caddie Tom Ayling have returned negative tests.

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