RHYS Enoch ended his long wait for a European Challenge Tour title at the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge after posting a four-under par 68 on the final day at Penati Golf Resort.
The Welshman carded four consecutive sub-70 rounds to post an 18-under total and secure a one-shot victory over New Zealand’s Josh Geary, who propelled himself into contention on day four with a six-under 66.
The win caps an unforgettable few weeks for the 31-year-old, who showcased his potential to perform on the biggest stage with a spectacular 66 in the second round of the US Open at Pebble Beach last month.
The emotional victory comes just six weeks before the birth of his first child – and just over 10 years since the tragic death of his younger brother who had been tipped for top in golf as a teenager.
Enoch started the day two shots behind overnight leader Darius van Driel but soon took control with four birdies over the opening nine holes and despite bad weather forcing a short delay late in his round, he held on to secure his first Challenge Tour title.
‘’This has been a long time coming,’’ he said. ‘’There are so many emotions right now. I’m obviously just so happy, relieved and just excited about what this can mean going forward.
“To put yourself in these positions and not get it done, you wonder if you’re ever going to get over the finish line, but it just feels so great to have finally got the win.
‘’Everyone at home is behind me and wants me to see me do well, so it is exciting for me – but also for all my family.
“If you’d have told me at the start of June what the next month or so would bring, I would have been absolutely over the moon with that.
“I’ve got a baby boy being born in six weeks, so life is about to change and I’m going to need to balance my golf and travel.
“But I’m just really excited for what the future can bring,” said Enoch, who was playing on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour last year.
In 2009, Rhys’ younger brother Ben was killed in a car crash while on his way to take part in the Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham. Both brothers were in the Walker Cup squad to face the USA that year at Merion.
When Rhys qualified for The Open at Carnoustie last year, he paid tribute to Ben after making the cut in his second attempt, having also qualified at Hoylake in 2014.
Rhys, who has Ben’s nickname ‘Been’ tattoed on his chest, said after playing his third round with Masters champion Patrick Reed: “Today was my reward for persistence.
“With everything that has happened in my life, when you come to an occasion like this then the memories and thoughts do creep in and come back to you. But this is what I’ve worked for since I was 12 so this is all about hard work.”
In Slovakia, overnight leader van Driel opened with two consecutive birdies but was unable to replicate the form that had seen him occupy top spot over each of the first three rounds.
He eventually signed for a four-over par round of 76 to finish in a tie for eighth.
Frenchman Antoine Rozner continues to top the Challenge Tour rankings despite missing the cut in Slovakia, with Enoch moving up 61 places into seventh position.
The Challenge Tour now visits France for the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge from July 11-14.