Zions of Australia closes out seven- shot victory at Saint-Omer Open

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Matthew Zions of Australia put on a sunny smile after a runaway victory in a week of wind and rain.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Matthew Zions of Australia shot a 2-under 69 Sunday to win his first European Tour title Sunday at the Saint-Omer Open in dominating fashion.

The overnight leader made four birdies and two bogeys for an 8-under 276 total to finish seven strokes ahead of Daniel Denison of England, who shared second place with Peter Gustafsson of Sweden and Craig Lee of Scotland. Those were the only players to finish under par on a week punctuated by wind and rain in northern France.

2011 SAINT-OMER OPEN

The Saint-Omer Open has been on the European Tour schedule for seven years, and each of its champions made this event his first European Tour win.

"It feels like I'm dreaming," Zions said. "The last four holes I was wondering when I could start thinking about winning, and when would be too soon that it tempted fate. I had a lump in my throat a couple of times.

"This is a huge day, it's hard to believe. My ball striking was great all week and I hardly missed any greens. We're not out here just to collect the cheque. It was nice to feel those butterflies this morning and feel the adrenaline as I was coming down the stretch. That's why we play.”

Zions was a runner-up at last year’s Karnten Golf Open on the second-tier European Challenge Tour, and his previous best result on the European Tour was a ninth-place finish at the 2007 New Zealand Open.

Zions was briefly under pressure from Andrea Perrino of Italy, who made two birdies to pull within three shots of the lead. But the Italian had three consecutive bogeys after the turn to slip to fifth place, tied with six other players at 284.

Zions got some breathing room by making three birdies in a four-hole span to increase his lead to six shots after No. 11.

The 32-year-old Australian won by the biggest margin at this tournament. Christian Nilsson of Sweden had clinched the title by six strokes in 2009.

"If I was one or two ahead I might've been more nervous,” said Zions. “But I tried to treat it like any other round, and on the second I hit a beautiful 4-iron 220 yards to about 20 feet, so that settled me a lot. I knew it would be tough for the other guys to catch me with low scores in these conditions, so I just tried to be sensible.

"I'm supposed to be playing French Open qualifying tomorrow but there's no chance I'm going to that now. Hopefully I can get back to London tonight to celebrate this win with my wife and two little girls."