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Tour pro is just third player in 30 years to accomplish this statistical oddity, and it gets him into the U.S. Open

June 05, 2022
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Kalle Samooja waves to spectators as he finishes his Sunday eight-under 64 at the Porsche European Open that earned him his first career DP World Tour title.

Stuart Franklin

Apparently seven-shot comebacks aren’t exclusive to the PGA Tour these days. Just as Justin Thomas and Sam Burns rallied from such deficits to win the PGA Championship and Charles Schwab Challenge, Finland’s Kalle Samooja started that far back heading into the final round of the DP World Tour’s Porsche European Open. But Samooja shot a closing eight-under 64, a new course record at Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg, Germany.

Samooja’s first career win on the former European Tour was made all the more memorable for the way it was accomplished. The 34-year-old made eight birdies on his last 13 holes to grab the overall lead at six under. He then had to wait roughly two hours to see whether two players he passed—Will Besseling, also looking for his first DP World Tour win, and Victor Perez, winner a week ago at the Dutch Open and the 54-hole leader after Saturday.

Besseling though made a double bogey on the 15th hole and a bogey on the 17th that couldn’t be erased with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes, to finish with a one-under 71 at wind up at four under for a solo second-place showing. Perez, meanwhile, made three bogeys on his last seven holes, to post a 74 and wind up tied for third at three under.

Making Samooja’s win more remarkable was the statistical oddity to it. Only in his final round did the Swede break par during the week. Just two other golfers on the DP World Tour in the last 30 years have won a tournament while shooting just one sub-par round, the most recent being Jeev Milkha Singh at the 2006 Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

Indeed, Samooja’s 64 was three shots lower than the next best round of any other player all week. And it comes from nowhere in the sense that not only did Samooja fail to break par in the first three rounds, but he missed the cut in his previous three starts with no score better than 70.

“I was hitting the ball really well all week and when I saw the pins this morning I said to my caddie there is a low one out there today,” Samooja said.

Suffice it to say, the unique feat came at an opportune time. The European Open was the final tournament of a four-event qualifying series on the DP World Tour for the U.S. Open at The Country Club. The top 10 finishes in a points list of those events earned invites to Brookline, and Samooja’s win vaulted him into the category. It will be his first start ever in the USGA’s flagship championship and only the second major appearance of his career.