Hennie Otto woke up on the morning of the final round of the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol in Spain and he knew it would be a battle to pull off a victory.
ÂI woke up and my back went into a spasm again,Â said Otto after his fifth-place finish behind winner Julien Quesne of France, who triumphed by two strokes over ItalyÂs Matteo Manassero for his maiden European Tour victory.
ÂItÂs a pity my back started hurting today,Â said Otto. ÂThere were a couple of shots I couldnÂt hit but I gave myself a chance to get it to 17-under. I think I could have got it to 15-under; but itÂs a good week.Â
In the end, he finished at 12-under, five off the pace, but it was a pair of bogeys on 15 and the tough finishing hole which saw him slip out of contention just as Quesne put in a fine finishing spurt to win emphatically.
ÂIÂve had the back injury for a while and I think with all the travelling from America, itÂs crept in again,Â said Otto. ÂI said to my caddie I should try and play around it and just finish nicely. Unfortunately, I couldnÂt hit any full shots any more, but fifth place is not too bad, is it?Â
It was also not too bad for Jaco van Zyl, whoÂs share of seventh place was the next best performance by a South African: He closed with a brilliant six-under-par 66, and only QuesneÂs course record-equalling 64 was better.
Alex Haindl finished with a one-under 71 for a share of 17th while Darren Fichardt slipped to a final three-over 74 but managed to stay inside the top 20 despite it.
Telkom PGA champion Keith Horne also made the cut, and was four-under for the tournament in a share of 42nd.
Richard Sterne, JbeÂ Kruger, Warren Abery and James Kingston missed the cut.
Quesne birdied four of the last five holes, his magnificent approach to the difficult 18th leaving him a five-foot putt which he nervelessly holed. The two-time Challenge Tour winner had never previously higher than 16th in a European Tour event and was 322nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. He rocketed up to 183rd after his win.
For Otto, itÂs about managing the back: ÂIÂm playing well and IÂm just taking small steps at a time and thereÂs another week next week. A couple of days rest and then Morocco and then two weeks off,Â he said.