Sweden’s Michael Jonzon is living proof that in golf it takes just one week to make it a great year.
Without a single top 10 finish since December and needing to come first or second to keep his European Tour card, Jonzon won the Castello Masters in Spain with a closing 18-foot birdie putt today.
The nerves were there for all to see as the burly 37-year-old, 158th on the money list and needing to climb into the top 115, lost his grip on the tournament by double-bogeying the 15th and dropping another shot at the 17th.
Martin Kaymer, six behind with five to play, was suddenly level when he birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th – and Jonzon’s fellow countryman Christian Nilsson was 19 under par as well in the clubhouse.
When Kaymer then hit his approach to the 428-yard last to nine feet the 24-year-old German looked favourite for a victory that would take him back to the top of the Order of Merit – and this despite him limping all week in his first event since breaking toes in a go-kart crash in August.
But Jonzon, 482nd in the world and playing with 10th-ranked Sergio Garcia and 12th-ranked Kaymer, holed from twice as far, Kaymer missed and it was all over.
“I’m on the moon,” said Jonzon, whose only previous success in 290 tour starts was the 1997 Portuguese Open.
“It’s been desperate for me and I am kind of speechless at the moment. It’s unbelievable.”
The first prize of just over £308,000 was more than four times his previous biggest cheque in a career that goes back 16 years and includes eight trips to the qualifying school.
“It’s going to take time to let this sink in, I guess,” he added.
“I’m just so thrilled to have a playing status for next year and I’m so proud of myself the way I handled these days.”
One ahead overnight, he lost the lead when defending champion Garcia opened with back-to-back birdies, but the Spanish star is still looking for his first top-three finish of the year after falling back to fourth on his home course.
Jonzon grabbed an eagle and three birdies to turn in 31 and seemed to be coasting when he birdied the long 13th while Nilsson followed six successive birdies with a bogey six there and Kaymer ran up a seven on the same hole.
But getting the job done proved anything but easy.
20 under - Michael Jonzon (Swe) (after 72 holes)
19 under – Martin Kaymer (Ger) (72)
Christian Nilsson (Swe) (72)
17 under – Sergio Garcia (Spa) (72)
16 under – Maarten Lafeber (Ned) (72)
15 under – Robert Allenby (Aus) (72)
Soren Hansen (Den) (72)
14 under – Darren Clarke (72)
Andrew Coltart (72)
Peter Hanson (Swe) (72)
Sam Hutsby (72)
13 under – Jamie Donaldson (72)
Colin Montgomerie (72)
12 under – Shiv Kapur (Ind) (72)
Jose-Maria Olazabal (Spa) (72)
Anthony Wall (72)
Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) (72)
11 under – David Drysdale (72)
David Horsey (72)
Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) (72)