Hertfordshire’s Callum Shinkwin claimed his first European Tour title after beating Kalle Samooja in a play-off at the 2020 Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open.
The 27-year-old from Hertfordshire was two shots behind the Finn as he stood on the 17th tee in regulation, and while a birdie there edged him closer, his chances of victory looked slim when he found rough off the tee at the par-five 18th.
His second shot over the water took him to the edge of the putting surface from he holed an incredible 54-foot putt for eagle to take a one-shot lead at 20 under par after a closing course record 63.
Moments later, Samooja left himself an eagle chance from almost exactly the same spot, but a two-putt birdie meant it was extra holes at Aphrodite Hills.
Shinkwin found the greenside bunker with his second shot at the first trip back up the last, but got up and down for a birdie, while Samooja’s eagle attempt slipped four feet past the hole and he missed the putt back for birdie, sealing Shinkwin’s first win in his 112th European Tour event.
The victory heralds a return to form for the Moor Park man, who lost his card in 2018 after coming close to becoming a Rolex Series winner the previous season, missing out in a play-off to Rafa Cabrera Bello at the Scottish Open when a par on the 72nd hole would have handed him the title.
“I was as shocked as anyone that it went in,” said Shinkwin, in reference to this eagle putt on the 72nd hole. “I was 18 under par at the time and 19 was leading. So I wasn’t really thinking about winning. Holing from there was one-in-a-million really. My aim was just to get down in two, but it went in.
He added: “I felt pretty relaxed all day, but I was a little more nervous playing 15 and 16, as those holes have been tough all week, so once I’d got through those I felt fine on the closing holes and in the play off. I’ve always wanted to win on the European Tour – and now I have and it feels great.
“I had to dig pretty deep to keep my card last year, which I did. I changed my caddie earlier this year to try to help me on the greens more. I’ve done that with Sam [Robertshawe], he’s a great green reader with his own method. I’ve trusted him and he’s basically taught me how to read greens better. This week I think I’ve called on him eight times and I’ve holed seven putts from there, and obviously holed a lot more reading myself as well, which is obviously really good.”
Jamie Donaldson, Garrick Higgo and Robert MacIntyre finished two shots out of the play-off places in tied third, one clear of Jason Scrivener, Sami Välimäki and Dale Whitnell.
What’s In The Bag – Callum Shinkwin
Driver: Callaway MAVRIK Sub Zero (10.5°)
Fairways: Callaway MAVRIK (16.5°)
Utility: Callaway X Forged UT 21′ (21°)
Irons: Callaway Apex MB 21′ (3-9)
Wedges: Callaway JAWS MD5 (46°, 52°, 58°)
Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Double Wide
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X Triple Track 20