Englishman Ross McGowan ended an 11-year wait for his second European Tour title after producing late brilliance to snatch the Italian Open crown by one shot on Sunday.
The 38-year-old birdied two of the final three holes to reach 20 under par for the tournament and edge out compatriot Laurie Canter and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
McGowan has not even finished in the top 150 of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai since 2010, but clinched victory with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-five final hole, before Canter missed from half that distance with his attempt to force a play-off.
“I can’t believe it,” said the world number 560, who also holed a bunker shot to birdie the 16th.
“I hit the ball terrible today but luckily the putter kept me in it again.
“The tee shot on 16 was a shocker, the second shot wasn’t much better and then I holed the bunker shot so I think that was the one that gave me a bit of belief. Then to roll that putt in there (on the 18th) was magical.”
McGowan’s previous top-level victory came at the Madrid Masters in 2009 and he has spent much of his career since on the second-tier Challenge Tour and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.
Canter, who also finished second at last month’s Portugal Masters, will have to wait for a maiden title despite firing an incredible 12-under 60 in the first round.
Colsaerts, part of Europe’s winning 2012 Ryder Cup team in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’, surged through the field with a four-under 68, but had to settle for a share of second with Canter on 19-under overall.
German Sebastian Heisele was a stroke further back in fourth, with his fellow countryman and former world number one Martin Kaymer among five players tied for fifth on 17-under.