Peebles golfer Craig Howie secured his maiden professional win after a sensational final round at the Leipziger Open in Germany and surged to the number one spot in the Pro Golf Tour rankings to all but guarantee promotion to the European Challenge Tour next season.
The 23-year old former Scottish Boys Champion, playing his first season in the paid ranks, came from behind on the third and final day with a stunning 8-under par 64 which included two eagles and five birdies, leaving him tied for the lead on 16-under par with compatriot Chris Robb from Aberdeen. Having lost out in extra holes in the previous tournament, Howie held his nerve to sink a short birdie putt on the third play-off hole to take the title and with it, a cheque for 6,666 euros, which elevated him to top spot on the Order of Merit with just three events remaining. With the top five players booking a place on the more lucrative Challenge Tour next season, the Peebles man is a certainty to stay within the leading places, and has now set his sights on finishing the year as the Tour’s number one golfer.
“It’s nice to get the first win under my belt and I’m delighted to have got the job done. Getting to the play-off in my previous event was huge for me and it gave me the confidence to know that I could produce the goods when I needed to. It was nice to win in style with a low final round and perform under pressure in the play-off.” said Howie, who became the first ever Peebles golfer to win a professional Tour event.
Having finished runner-up in the previous two events with an accumulative score of 24-under par for his last six rounds, Craig knew he was in great form heading into the tournament in Leipzig last week.
"You need that to do well on this Tour and it gives me the belief that I can do that at a higher level. My target now is to kick on and finish the season as number one, which would earn me an even better category on the Challenge Tour. I’ve achieved the goal I set myself at the start of the season and that’s satisfying.”
Craig was besieged by messages of congratulations by fellow members and received a great ovation when he returned home to the club on Saturday afternoon.
“The messages of support from back home have been crazy and it’s great to have so many people behind me. Stobo Castle have been great sponsors for me and the Club and its members have also supported me really well with fundraising from an event they did last year. We’ve got another one at the end of September so it would be great to fill all the teams and get another good turnout. It’s a nice way for me to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and help with the next stage of my career. It’s an expensive job unfortunately so I really appreciate the sponsorship I have received which has enabled me to play at this level.”
If you’d like to support Craig, you can enter a team of four in Peebles Golf Club’s Elite Golfer Support Day, which takes place in September, costing £150 for a team. To book your place, please contact the office on 01721 720197.
Craig’s next event is this week’s Starnberg Open, also in Germany, with the Tour Championship taking place from 24 – 26 September.