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Trophies for Sami Välimäki and Hurly Long

Castanea Resort Championship 2019

Hurly Long is the overall winner of the Pro Golf Tour 2019. With a birdie on the last hole of his final round, the German reached joint 6th place at the Castanea Resort Championship 2019 and added a further 1602.90 points to his account, reaching a sensational 1st place in the Pro Golf Tour Order of Merit in his perfect rookie season. This also books him a place on the European Challenge Tour 2020 alongside the Finn Sami Välimäki, who secured his fourth victory of the season and thus 2nd place in the final rankings with a masterful performance to win the Castanea Resort Championship in Adendorf in Germany. The Dutchman Robbie van West, German Allen John and the Czech Ondrej Lieser finish the Pro Golf Tour 2019 in places 3 to 5 and can therefore also tee up on the Challenge Tour in the coming year.

by Matthias Lettenbichler

Adendorf/Germany – "I was absolutely determined to take this cup. I am very pleased to have been able to finish the season in first place, but it really was hard work, much harder even than I had imagined." A happy Hurly Long held up the imposing overall winner's trophy under the dark skies above Adendorf, and the relief of being able to complete his rookie season top of the class put a wide smile on the face of the 24-year-old. With rounds of 71, 64 and 69 he had reached 6th place at the Castanea Resort Championship on the excellent championship course in Adendorf and added another 1602.90 points to his account at this last tournament of the season, securing the overall victory.

In the end it was a matter of just two shots, and the narrowness of the win was down above all to the Finn Sami Välimäki, already the victor of three tournaments this year – an achievement that had secured him admission to the European Challenge Tour already a few weeks ago. The 21-year-old started at Adendorf in 4th place in the Pro Golf Tour Order of Merit, and quickly made it clear that he was seeking his fourth victory of the season and the overall winner's trophy as well. With a round of 67, he was just one shot behind the Frenchman Dimitri Darnaud in 2nd place after day 1; in the second round, shortened due to bad weather, the Nokia man added a 63 and was three shots ahead of the field. In the second round the tees were moved on four fairways and the holes played as par 3s to allow play to proceed after heavy rain.

Välimäki increased his advantage to five points on the final day with another round of 67 and a total 19 under par to secure his fourth victory of the season in style and likewise the 7800-euro first prize. Only one player has won more often on the Pro Golf Tour in one year: Germanys Martin Kaymer in the 2006 season. This third tournament victory in a row lifted Välimäki to 2nd place in the final Pro Golf Tour Order of Merit.

"The weather conditions were challenging this week, but I am very happy with my game", said Välimäki. Hurly Long paid tribute to his opponent for what are now three consecutive victories at the end of the season – a flawless hat trick and the first of its kind on the Pro Golf Tour. "His truly great performances and the pressure that he created have been an extra motivation for me over the past few weeks, and here once again he made me give everything. I am extremely pleased to have been able to produce some good rounds of golf myself on this magnificent course, where the excellent conditions were a very pleasant surprise. I knew that if I managed that, no one could catch me."

Tough competition for ticket No. 5

The top 5 in the Pro Golf Tour 2019 end of season Order of Merit move up to the European Challenge Tour 2020. While the Dutchman Robbie van West and German Allen John gave solid performances in Adendorf to secure places 3 and 4 and therefore also their tickets to promotion, 5th place was closely contested. Before the tournament started, there were around a dozen players who could still hope for a top performance that would move them into the 5th place held before the season final by the German Hinrich Arkenau. And because Arkenau did not have his best week at the final tournament of the season and collected only 100 points as number 65 in the final tournament ranking, and the Czech Ondrej Lieser once again proved his stellar scorer qualities, Arkenau did indeed lose his 5th place to the man from Branžež. Lieser played a total 15 under par in Adendorf (70, 66, 65), which gave him sole possession of second place and 4680 points. He therefore climbed from 10 to 5 in the final Order of Merit.

The 2019 season of the Pro Golf Tour finished with the Castanea Resort Championship. However, this was not the last tournament of the year, neither for the Pro Golf Tour team nor for the players who were so successful in the final. Tournament director Simon Bowler and his crew will be welcoming Pro Golf Tour 2020 players to the qualifying school at Paderborner Land Golf Club in Salzkotten from 15 to 18 October. They will be playing for a 3000-euro prize money and most importantly guaranteed starting places in the popular Pro Golf Tour 2020 spring tournaments, once again to be held in Egypt and Morocco, where the fields are limited due to daylight. For Hurly Long, Sami Välimäki and many of their colleagues, early November means Stage II of the European Tour Qualifying School and a chance to head straight for Europe's top tour.