Daniel Gaunt banished the demons of a difficult two years with one stupendous flick of a wedge as the Australian defeated Wil Besseling of The Netherlands in the first hole of a play-off to win the Telenet Trophy.
It was a real piece of genius on the first extra hole which sealed a second Challenge Tour title for the Melbourne-born man as he flicked a delightful chip from 47 yards stone dead to guarantee a birdie.
Besseling, from a more difficult lie in the rough, could only knock his chip 15 feet past and his missed putt meant Gaunt could tap in for a birdie and the win.
The 34 year old had held his nerve, but only just, during a dramatic final round at Royal Waterloo Golf Club, where many players were in with a shout until late in the day before falling at the final hurdle.
Instead, a stunning performance and a six under par 65 propelled Besseling through the field early on as he claimed the clubhouse lead on 11 under par, having teed off 11 groups before the final pairing.
Gaunt, who shared the lead going into the final round, needed a birdie at the final hole of regulation play to take his Dutch counter-part to extra holes and a superb second shot into the green against the wind meant he two putted for a two under par 69 to bring it back down the 18th.
There, he wowed the crowds with a magnificent show of short game ingenuity before raising his hands high in the air in a show of joy and relief, in equal measures, when his putt dropped.
“I’m a bit emotional at the moment to be honest,” said Gaunt, who had only made one cut in nine appearances on both The European Tour and Challenge Tour this year. “After how the last two years have gone for me it’s massive to get a win under my belt.
“Getting to 12 under early on in the final round, I thought I had a great chance but anything can happen around there. I got a little edgy with my putting but I have been working hard on my short game and that shot in the play-off was the one I had been struggling with.
“I just trusted it though and I couldn’t have hit it any better to be honest. “
Besseling, meanwhile, was disappointed to have missed out in the play-off having come so close but the 27 year old was encouraged just to have come so close, after climbing from four shots back going into the final day.
“At this moment it’s only the feeling of losing a play-off, losing a play-off is never fun, but coming back from so far behind to finish second outright is really great stuff,” he said.
José-Filipe Lima also had a chance to join the play-off but he missed a seven-footer for birdie at the 18th and had to settle for a share of third place, alongside fellow former European Tour winner Daniel Vancsik and Welshman Stuart Manley.
Photo: Pierre Mardaga