North Middlesex golfer Andrew Johnston won his first European Challenge Tour title at the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts on Sunday.
Johnston, 25, won by three shots with a five-under-par final round score of 66 to finish comfortably ahead of German Moritz Lampert in second.
Having assumed the lead in the second round, Johnston never relinquished top spot, shooting rounds of 66, 65, 68 and 66 to win the event and €40,000 in prize money – trumping his previous biggest prize of €19,582 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in 2012.
Reflecting on his maiden Tour victory, Johnston admitted the idea of winning had not crossed his mind until the morning of the fourth round.
“I didn’t think about it [winning] really until probably the 18th hole and even then I wasn’t thinking about it until the ball was in the hole,” said Johnston.
“It was quite funny, when I had my second shot on the green, I looked up at the scoreboard and I was trying to count how many putts I could afford to have from two foot and still win,” joked Johnston.
“It feels really good, it feels like a relief to get the first win under my belt. They had open qualifying straight after so I haven’t even had time to fully reflect on it or have a drink to celebrate it yet.”
Johnston continued: “When they set the schedule I picked weeks off before courses I like and I liked Scotland and I liked this course in particular so I had a week off in advance to prepare for it.
“I knew the course suited my game and I knew I enjoyed Scotland so I felt quite good beforehand.”
An eagle on the par four second and back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth and 13th and 14th holes set Johnston on the way to a comprehensive victory.
Playing partner Lampert almost staged a superb comeback on the back nine but the German could not overhaul Johnston’s lead.
Johnston, who has since flown to Germany for the Aegean Airlines Challenge Tour in Bad Griesbach, climbs to third in the Challenge Tour Rankings as a result of Sunday’s win and now has his eyes firmly set on securing his European Tour Card for next year.
Third after victory in Scotland, a top 15 spot will earn Johnston his card for next season and ‘Beef’, as he is commonly known to friends, is “quietly confident” of returning to the European Tour next year.
Johnston has previously played on the Tour before a serious shoulder injury in 2013.
He said: “The start of last year was tough. I just wanted to play and compete and when you see your friends playing and you can’t, you just want to play,” explained Johnston.
“It worked out quite well in the end though because I found a really good physio in Southgate, who really helped me out and made me learn a lot more about my body.
“I’ve learned a lot more about what is required to stay injury free. Everyone else was doing it, so why wasn’t I?”
Johnston started at North Middlesex Golf Club in Barnet at the age of eight as a junior and competed at The Open Championship at Royal St Georges in 2011.