Hanell Chalks Up First Victory

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SANTO DA SERRA, Madeira -- Christopher Hanell closed with a 1-under 71 Sunday to hang on to win the Madeira Island Open. He finished the wet and windy event at 4-under-par 284.
 
'This is my first start of the year so I am very happy,' said Hanell. 'I'm excited about the year coming up. I have been excited about the year since the Tour School.'
 
Brad Kennedy, who shot an opening-round 62, also shot a 71 Sunday to share second place at 3-under-par 285. He was joined there by Steven Jeppesen (76) and Rob Rashell (73). Garry Houston (74) and Sam Walker (70) were one stroke further back at minus-2.
 
The third round of the event was completed Sunday morning after weather delays the first two days slowed the tournament. Strong winds that gusted to over 30 m.p.h. during the final round sent scores soaring Sunday.
 
With strong winds blowing over the final two rounds, only nine players shot par or better in the final round, while 20 players shot 80 or higher over the final two rounds. Three golfers managed to card rounds in the 60s during round three, but no one was able to do that in the final round.
 
Hanell began play Sunday six strokes behind Kennedy. Hanell finished his final nine holes of the third round at even-par with three birdies and three bogeys to head to the final round at minus-3, four back of Jeppesen and Knud Storgaard.
 
The Swede began his final round at Santo da Serra Golf Club with four straight pars. Hanell, playing his first event since the season-opening Omega Hong Kong Open in December, then birdied the par-4 fifth. However, he stumbled to a bogey at the very next hole.
 
Battling the tough conditions, Hanell ran off 10 consecutive pars around the turn to head to the final two holes at 3 under.
 
The 30-year-old picked up his second birdie of the day and third in four rounds at the par-3 17th to get to 4 under. He closed with a par at the last and when Kennedy bogeyed the same hole, Hanell had earned his first European Tour title.
 
'Today it was as tough as this golf course gets,' said Hanell, who is the fourth Swede to win here in 12 years. 'My second round of 67, which I finished on Saturday, really clinched it for me. That was as good as I can play. You are going to have some misjudgments but it was a great round. But if anything stands out about this week it was if I got in trouble it was never too bad and I got out of it. This makes a huge difference for planning my year.'
 
Kennedy, who stood at minus-9 when third-round play resumed Sunday morning, stumbled badly to close that round. He posted one bogey, a double-bogey and a quadruple-bogey at the par-4 closing hole to end at minus-2.
 
He rebounded quickly to start his final round as he birdied the first, however, Kennedy bogeyed the fourth and sixth to fall to 1 under.
 
Kennedy birdied the 13th and sank back-to-back birdies from the 15th to grab a share of the lead at minus-4. He faltered to one final bogey at the last costing him a chance at a playoff.
 
'I don't want to bottle that 18th hole up and take it away from me that's for sure,' Kennedy said. 'But I have to try and learn from this and keep knocking on the door. That's two seconds in a month. I really knuckled down. I knew I let myself down out there and wanted to dig down as deep as I could.'
 
Jeppesen opened the final round at minus-7, where he stood alongside Storgaard in the lead. Jeppesen bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9, before getting a shot back with a birdie at the 10th.
 
Jeppesen tripped up to back-to-back bogeys from the 12th and a double-bogey at the 15th dropped him to 2 under. He managed his final birdie at the par-3 17th, a hole which he birdied all four rounds.
 
John Mellor and Markus Brier each closed with rounds of 1-under 71. They shared seventh place at 1-under-par 287 with Graeme McDowell (73), Jamie Spence (74) and Storgaard (78).
 
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