Italy's Renato Paratore, 20, earns maiden European Tour win by one stroke in Sweden
It’s arguable what was the more trying part of Sunday afternoon for Italy’s Renato Paratore at the Nordea Masters: Making clutch par saves on the last three holes at Sweden’s Barseback Golf and Country Club to post a closing 70 and take the clubhouse lead at 11 under or watch Chris Wood play the final hole needing a birdie to win and a par to force a playoff.
Only when Wood hit an ugly tee shot that went missing in the trees, en route to bogey 5 on the hole could Paratore rest easy in claiming his first European Tour title at just 20.
“I couldn’t be happier right now,” Paratore said. “I was one behind the leader so I thought if I played well I could win. In these tough conditions I kept a good attitude until the end.”
With the win, Paratore is expected to jump into the top 150 on the World Ranking after starting the week No. 272. He also became the youngest winner on tour since Matteo Manassero won the BMW PGA Championship in 2013.
Tied with Wood at one back was defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who birdied the 18th hole to shoot a 68 and set 10 under as the number the rest of the field was aiming for on this rainy Sunday.
The tight Sunday race also included George Coetzee, Jaime Donaldson and Thorborn Olesen, all of whom at one point on Sunday were part of a five-way tie for first with Paratore and Wood. Coetzee’s seven-shot deficit ultimately proved too much to overcome, but his closing 66 did set a course record as he finished in a tie for third at nine under. Donaldson, the 36-hole leader, finished with a 72 to fall to solo seventh.
Wood, the third-round leader, struggled at the outset on Sunday, making bogeys one the first, third and seventh holes, offset by birdies on the sixth and ninth, to turn in one-over 37. On the back nine, however, he’d make birdies on Nos. 10, 12 and 16 to stay near the lead.
After a bogey on the third hole, Paratore picked up momentum with birdies on the eighth and ninth, then made two more on the 12th and 14th holes. “That was a key moment,” Paratore said afterward of the birdies to close his front nine. “And the last three holes I managed three very good putts. The last three holes were very good.”
In 2014, Paratore became the third youngest player (17 years, 341 days) to claim a card at European Tour Q School. The win in Sweden came in his 83rd career start on tour and it replaces this odd fact as the highlight of Paratore’s nascent time on the European Tour: in 2015 at the Alstom Open de France, Paratore became the first player to record the same score—4—on each of the 18 holes.