Roope Kakko wins Madeira Islands Open

Roope Kakko shot a brilliant 63 in the final round to win the Madeira Islands Open

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Roope Kakko shot a brilliant 63 in the final round to win the Madeira Islands Open

August 02, 2015: Roope Kakko became the second Finnish winner in European Tour history as he carded a flawless nine under par final round 63 to be crowned 2015 Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI champion.

The 33 year old finished three shots clear of Scotland’s Scott Henry thanks to a stunning 17 under par weekend, following up an eight under third round with the best final round by a European Tour winner this season to set a new record for the lowest winning score in the tournament’s 22 year history at 24 under par.

It was Henry who came out of the blocks quickest at the sun-drenched Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra, moving two shots clear of his playing partners, Kakko and third round leader Pontus Widegren of Sweden, with three successive opening birdies.

Kakko cut a determined figure, however, and he picked up a trio of successive birdies from the fifth to reach the turn one shot ahead of the chasing pack. “I almost started crying with three holes to go – I was really getting emotional,” admitted Kakko.

The Finnish golfer chipped in at the par four tenth for eagle and followed that up with his fifth birdie of the day at the 11th, before picking up two more shots down the stretch to cruise to victory – putting his name alongside Mikko Ilonen on the list of Finnish European Tour champions in the process.

“I’m speechless,” said Kakko. “I came here to try and win this event and change my career so I’m over the moon to have done it.

“There was a lot of pressure but I had some pretty good thoughts in me, so I was able to handle it today. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you plan it but it all went my way today.

“I told myself to just stick to my game plan and eventually I’m going to make a few. I actually targeted a 67 today and I went a bit lower than that, so that was great.

“On Saturday I had a plan to just get into contention on Sunday and it worked. Scott and I played incredible golf today.

“This is definitely the best moment of my career but I have to say that it really helped me to have won two years ago on the Challenge Tour in Oman. I was at a stage where I really needed to win and I did it, and that really helped me today, calmed me down when the pressure was on.”

The two-time Challenge Tour winner let out an almighty roar after sealing the victory with a par putt at the 18th and he did admit that the enormity of the occasion did take its toll during the round.

His caddie came to the rescue at the most opportune time, however, and now he is looking forward to returning to The European Tour a better and more experienced player.

“I was really nervous coming down the stretch on the last five holes,” he said. “I almost started crying with three holes to go – I was really getting emotional. But my caddie was very helpful, he gave me a couple of songs to sing and cracked a few jokes and that really helped me get into the moment.

“Of course, I’m playing on The European Tour so that changes everything. I might take a bit of a break now, not play many events towards the end of the year, and really be ready to play alongside the best players in the world next season.”

Henry secured his second consecutive runner-up finish at this event, having been defeated by England’s Daniel Brooks in a play-off last year, after a six under par 66 earned him a 21 under total. It was the Glaswegian’s best finish of the season and moved him from 73rd in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman Rankings to sixth.

His compatriot Andrew McArthur recorded a third top three finish of the season, also carding a nine under par 63 to finish in outright third place on 18 under, moving to fourth place in the Road to Oman in the process.

Widegren, the third round leader, could only manage a level par round of 72 and he finished in a share of fourth place on 16 under, alongside his fellow countryman Sebastian Soderberg.

Tiago Cruz was the best of the Portuguese after a four under par final 68 round earned him a tied tenth place finish, a shot better than 2012 Madeira Islands Open champion Ricardo Santos and his fellow European Tour winner José-Filipe Lima.

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