Top-10 finish for Blaauw in Empordà Challenge

Jacques Blaauw edged slightly closer to the top 20 in the Challenge Tour rankings on Sunday when he finished in a share of 10th in the Empordà Challenge at Empordà Golf in Girona, Spain.

He carded a final-round five-under-par 66 to climb eight places on the leaderboard as he finished on 13-under for the tournament. That was five shots behind the winner, Julien Brun of France, who carded a two-under 69 to hold off a charging Jigger Thompson who signed for a 62 to finish one shot back on 17-under.

Blaauw climbed two places to 32 on the Challenge Tour rankings, and with just one event left ahead of the Challenge Tour Grand Final, another good performance will bring him within sight of the top 20 who will earn their 2022 European Tour cards.

Blaauw had a quiet opening nine, making birdie on the second and bogey on the seventh to tourn in level-par 35. But he went on one of his trademark tears after turning for home, starting with birdies on 10 and 12. He made four birdies in a row on the stretch from 14 to 17, but he dropped a shot on the final hole of the tournament.

Hennie du Plessis and Bryce Easton were in a share of 39th on eight-under after closing rounds of 67 and 65 respectively. Du Plessis is in 38th on the points list and Easton in 75th.

JC Ritchie dropped one spot to 25th after closing with a two-over 73 to finish in 61st, and will be looking for a better performance in the final tournament before the Grand Final. And while Oliver Bekker missed the cut, he stays inside the top 10 and looks sent to win his European Tour card.

Elsewhere, in a quiet week for South Africans on the European Tour, George Coetzee was the best South African performer in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters at Real Club Valderrama as he closed with a three-over 74 to be five-over for the week in a share of 46th.

In the tournament won by Matt Fitzpatrick who showed the value of consistency on a testing layout with his closing two-under 69 taking him to six-under for the week, Wilco Nienaber was in 49th after a one-under 70 took him to six-over. Justin Harding was the only other South African to make the cut, and he finished on eight-over in a share of 53rd.

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