Challenge Tour, Akesson wins in South Africa

Luca Cianchetti finished in 17th place with 207 (66 68 73, -9) strokes at the NMB Championship

by Andrea Gussoni
Challenge Tour, Akesson wins in South Africa
© Getty Images Sport - Johan Rynners / Stringer

Luca Cianchetti finished in 17th place with 207 (66 68 73, -9) strokes at the NMB Championship, the last of four consecutive events organized by the Challenge Tour in collaboration with the Sunshine Tour, which opened the season in South Africa.

Challenge Tour, results

At the Humewood Golf Club (par 72) in Port Elizabeth, in a tournament reduced from 72 to 54 holes due to bad weather, Swedish player Bjorn Akesson prevailed with 198 (63 67 68, -18) strokes, narrowly defeating Englishman Lee Slattery, who finished second with 199 (-17).

Australian Hayden Hopewell secured third place with 200 (-16), followed by Frenchman Martin Couvra in fourth with 201 (-15), Northern Irishman Jonathan Caldwell in fifth with 202 (-14), and South African Jaco Prinsloo and Frenchman Romain Wattel tied for sixth with 203 (-13).

South African Keenan Davidse, who had started the final round in the lead, finished only eighth with 204 (-12), the same score as his compatriots Anthony Michael and Martin Vorster. 35-year-old Bjorn Akesson from Malmoe claimed his first title in his 104th appearance on the Challenge Tour, which also counts towards the South African circuit.

After not achieving good results, he had decided to retire in 2017, but he resumed playing in the Nordic Golf League in 2021, where he had first won in 2010. Three victories in 2023 convinced him to continue. In the final round, he carded a 68 (-4) with eight birdies and four bogeys, which proved enough to win and earn a prize purse of €51,241 out of a total of approximately €323,000 (officially $350,000).

Cianchetti started in 17th place, climbed to 10th in the second round, and then dropped back to 17th with a closing 73 (+1, three birdies, four bogeys). Gregorio De Leo missed the cut, finishing 62nd with 141 (68 73, -3), while Aron Zemmer placed 74th with 142 (70 72, -2).

The Challenge Tour will now pause before resuming in three weeks with two events in India, the Delhi Challenge (March 14-17) and the Kolkata Challenge (March 21-24).

Challenge Tour