American Crocker holds on to win Hero Open

American Crocker holds on to win Hero Open

American Sean Crocker held off a spirited challenge from Eddie Pepperell to claim his first European tour title with a wire-to-wire victory in the Hero Open on Sunday.

Crocker carded a final-round 68 at Fairmont St Andrews to finish 22-under par and a shot ahead of Pepperell, who had piled on the pressure with a closing 65.

“It’s pretty cool but man, winning a golf tournament is not easy and Eddie did not make that easy for me either,” Crocker told Sky Sports.

Asked how he felt standing over a four-foot putt to win on the 18th, Crocker — who missed nine cuts in a row earlier this season — added: “Nervous as hell.

“I’ve felt pressure like that before but it’s my first pro tournament [win] so that putt looked like it was 20 feet and that hole looked like it was half an inch wide, but right off the face I knew it was a well-struck putt and as I looked up and saw it drop I was just telling myself ‘Don’t start crying’.”

Crocker, who was born in Zimbabwe and raised in California, lost his two-shot overnight lead early in the final round as Pepperell and Denmark’s Oliver Hundeboll both made flying starts, but a birdie on the sixth and three more in four holes from the 10th restored his advantage before Pepperell’s birdie on the 18th set up a nervous finish.

Pepperell reached a ranking of 32nd following the second of his two wins in 2018, but has struggled in recent seasons and was pleased with his first top-five finish in three years.

“I am proud,” Pepperell said.

“It was pretty flawless until the ninth and then it felt far from flawless for a few holes and I had to figure it out because there were some tough tee shots coming in but I just trusted my routines and from the fairway in I felt like I played great.

“I haven’t been in this position for a long, long time but by and large I think I did a good job.”

Scotland’s David Law and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui shared third place on 19 under, with Hundeboll and Sweden’s Jens Dantorp another stroke back.

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