Golfer born and raised in Malaga takes home his first win as a professional with a glorious victory amid strong winds
Leo Lilja took home the first win of his professional career. The 24-year-old golfer from Malaga won in the twentieth tournament of the Gecko Tour season, held on the New Course at San Roque.
Noteworthy and prestigious victory on a very demanding course and in extremely diabolical weather conditions. “A mixture of everything happened, but perhaps the best example of the wind we had was yesterday in the first round. I was a hundred meters from the flag and I had to hit a 7 iron…”, he said just after receiving his winner’s check.
Lilja took first place with a total of 147 shots (+3) over two days. He won with a two-shot advantage over British golfer Darren Walkley, three over Sam Connor and four over Swedish golfer Leo Haggstrom. It’s Lilja’s first win, the first barrier he’s broken down in a career that’s only just getting started. He went pro two years ago after winning the pitch and putt Spain Championship three seasons in a row.
Lilja assures that the key to the victory at San Roque was in his consistency. “I had a lot of patience in very complicated conditions and I was able to save three or four important pars that way. On the final stretch it was crucial that I was able to finish under par on the last six holes. The birdie on the 15th, with a putt from five meters away, gave me the peace of mind I needed in order to win. I’m very happy”, he remarks.
The success only serves to continue to strengthen the young golfer’s confidence, establishing himself at the Aloha golf club. Much more so when taking into consideration that not even three months ago he began working on changes in his swing, which are starting to pay off already. “I’m working with Ivan Hurtado and it’s going really well. Right from the start I saw that it was what I needed. I’m changing a lot of things and I’m playing a lot better”, he affirms with a smile.
Lilja’s victory is even more incredulous when you put it into perspective. To win in a tournament after two days with strong winds, which at times reached up to 65 kilometers per hour, and in the midst of completely changing his swing is an incredible feat. It’s a solid step in the right direction. A great foundation with which to go after his next objectives: Gambito and the Mena Tour. “I want to earn the European Tour card. That’s my dream. So I’ll play in the Qualifying School and I’m also going to try to play in the Mena Tour. I want to go to the School because it’s a tour that opens lots of doors, both in Europe and in the Asian Tour”, he assures. He demonstrated today that he is perfectly capable.
The Gecko is coming up on its final stretch after this past tournament at San Roque. Connor cut some distance between he and Andersson in the order of merit, although the Swedish golfer continues to have a comfortable margin of an advantage over him, after having finished in fifth place today. The next stop will be this Thursday and Friday on the Westin La Quinta course in Marbella.