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Hometown Hero Falls Short As Otaegui Claims Belgian Knockout

Adrian Otaegui captured his second European Tour title at the Belgian Knockout (Photo: Getty Images)
After a European Tour absence of 18 years from Belgium the home crowd were denied the fairytale finish they were hoping for when Nicolas Colsaerts was eliminated from the Belgian Knockout in the opening match of the final day.

The two time Tour winner and hero of the 2012 Ryder Cup had kept the home dream alive with some inspired play Saturday to be among the eight players to advance to Sunday.

But the dream came to an end in a tight match with England’s James Heath in the first pairing of the day, Heath a one shot winner in the nine hole medal matchplay format.

Spain’s Adrian Otaegiu was the eventual winner of the tournament, the 27-year-old defeating France’s Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final.

Scotland’s David Drysdale won the play-off for third place over Heath.

The win is Otaegui’s second after he also won the Paul Lawrie matchplay event last year.

"I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight," he said after the final.

"I think we both played very good golf and I'm just very proud about my week.

"I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game, stroke play, and so that's what I tried to do.”

The medal matchplay format is an unusual one for the professionals to play, especially over just nine holes, but it proved popular with the large crowds who came out to watch at the Rinkven International Golf Club.

The final four players completed 90 holes over the course of the week, 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying to cut the field to 64 then 54 holes in a series of nine-hole elimination matches to eventually crown a winner.

With some of the Tour’s biggest events to be played over the next two months, beginning with the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next week, Otaegui said the win was a perfect warm up as he takes aim at earning a Ryder Cup berth in September.

"I've started pretty well for the moment,” he said of his season so far.

“I'm just looking forward to focus on the Rolex Series next, some big events coming up and I just want to focus on that and there's still a lot of season ahead.

“The season is still very long but I'm looking for Ryder Cup."

Beaten finalist Hebert, who is yet to win on Tour though is a regular fixture on Sunday leaderboards, said he was pleased with his week and gave the tournament the thumbs up.

"Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format," he said of the final.

"He's already won one tournament in match play last year but I did my best.

"I was a bit tired for the final but there is a lot of positive things to learn about this week and that's good.

"This format is very fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea."

SIGNATURE HOLES - 4TH AT GIBRALTAR GC, NSW:

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