By Brian Keogh
Jacopo Vecchi Fossa. Picture: Alessandro Bellicini
Jonathan Yates finished sixth in the season-ending Italy Alps Open and eighth in the final Order of Merit standings as the Alps Tour concluded its 2020 season in Rome.
The Naas man made four birdies in a two-under 70 to finish on six-under par at Golf Nazionale where Italy's Jacopo Vecchi Fossa closed with a 68 to win his first Alps Tour event by two strokes from France's Jeong Weon Ko, who incurred a penalty and made a double-bogey on the last, on 13-under par.
It was Yates’ fourth top-10 from nine Alps Tour starts in 2020, which included a season’s best runner-up finish in the Red Sea Little Venice Open in February.
"It's great to win the last tournament of the season," said Vecchi, who underwent heart surgery in 2017. "I've played six events this year and I've played well on some great courses. Plus, this win secures me my full card for the Alps Tour next season."
According to the Alps Tour, Ko was one stroke ahead playing the 18th and with preferred lies in play, he came up just off the green, placed his ball, left his tee in the ground, then moved his ball again to adjust his aim and was penalised under Rule 9.4b of the Rules of Golf.
His error obviously unsettled him as he three-putted to finish with a double bogey whilst the Italian birdied to secure the win.
"It takes a little joy away from my win as I felt really sorry for Jeong" the winner said.
Nevertheless, Ko can take some comfort from his second place as it was enough to secure him third place on the Order of Merit and one of the three Challenge Tour places for next year.
The remaining two Challenge Tour places go to Spain's Jordi Garcia Del Moral, who was the winner of the 2020 Order of Merit, and countryman, Lucas Vacarisas who was second.
Garcia Del Moral arrived at the final event secure in the knowledge that his six top ten results this season, including a win at the Cervino Open, meant that he would already have one of the three cards.
"I knew I had one of the top three places on the Order of Merit but I had to aim for a top three win here, in case Lucas won the tournament," he said after finishing ninth to secure his Challenge Tour card as Vacarisas finished sixth.
Garcia Del Moral head home to Spain for a Challenge Tour event next week but he expressed his gratitude to the Alps Tour team.
"It's been a long year, difficult with the Covid 19 but finally we finished the year," he said. "We did nine events, and all the players are very grateful to you guys for working so hard and doing a great job. So, thank you!"
The Alps Tour returns to Italy on 11 November for the First Stage of the 2020 Qualifying School.
The first two rounds will be played on three different courses near Rome over two days -- Golf Club Parco de' Medici, Terre dei Consoli Golf Club and Golf Nazionale.
These last two clubs will then host the Final Stage over three rounds the following week from the 17-19 November.