In truth, Guido Migliozzi looked more and more like the winner of the second Belgian Knockout as soon as the 22-year old Italian took out last week’s winner in Denmark, Bernd Wiesberger, in the quarter-final of this hybrid stroke-play/match-play event. A solid 11th in the 36-hole qualifying, world No. 203 Migliozzi -- already a winner at the Magical Kenya Open in March -- was under par in each of his six nine-hole matches at the 6,924-yard Rinkven International club near Antwerp en route to his second victory in only 20 European Tour starts.
In the last of those, Migliozzi was a comfortable four-stroke winner over Challenge Tour player Darius Van Driel, who celebrated this 30th birthday with a best-ever finish on the main Old World circuit. Former Walker Cup player Ewen Ferguson from Scotland took third-place with a bogey-free four-shot victory over Frenchman Gregory Havret (runner-up behind Graeme McDowell in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach) in the playoff for third and fourth places.
“I'm feeling very good,” said Migliozzi, whose clinching victory was marked by a series of enormous drives that were lacking in accuracy only on the final hole. “I managed my game very well this afternoon, all the shots. It's been great playing like this with such great players. I'm playing solid and I will try to continue this quality in the future. He (Van Driel) played very solid. We played together on the Challenge Tour and it's been a great match. He's a good player.”
The immediate financial reward for the new champion was the biggest share of the $1.12 million, but surely more important for the big-hitting Migliozzi will be moving inside the top 100 on the world rankings -- just the latest stepping stone in a career that has long shown enormous promise. Before turning professional in 2016, the former Italian Boys champion represented his home nation in the World Amateur Team Championship and the Continent of Europe in the St. Andrews Trophy match against Great Britain & Ireland.
In the three years since the Vincenza native left the amateur ranks, he has achieved multiple wins on the satellite Alps Tour, become the first client of pop star Niall Horan’s Modest Golf management group, claimed the 16th card at last year’s European Tour Qualifying School and has now moved up to 21st place on the Race to Dubai. Only one rookie, another two-time winner in American Kurt Kitayama, is ranked higher. Heady stuff indeed. With, no doubt, more to come.