Eirik Tage Johansen won the penultimate event on The Gecko Tour before the Christmas break. The Norwegian carded 209 at the Alcaidesa course in Cádiz province after a superb 69 in the final round, played at the Heathland course. The new champion was the only player to beat the par of 70.
Johansen was in commanding form, overcoming his nearest rivals – Santiago Tarrio (the overnight leader) and Carlos Balmaseda – by four strokes. Also finishing under par were Daniel and Juan Carlos Osario, Marcos Pastor and William Nygard, the latter having led the way after the first day.
Johansen is one of the stalwarts of The Gecko Tour. Like the two most recent Gecko winners, Manuel Quirós and Mark Tullo, he has competed on the European Tour for several years. In total, he has teed up in 77 events on Europe’s main tour, with his best result eighth place in the 2011 Africa Open. He has also been a regular on the Challenge Tour, playing in more than 40 tournaments and securing four top-10 finishes, highlighted by a second and third in 2008, when he ended the season among the leading 60 ranked players.
Johansen is 33 years old and from Stavanger, although he was born in California (in the United States). He has also won twice on the Nordic circuit and has previous winning pedigree on The Gecko Tour. Last year, for example, he fought to the end for victory on the order of merit.
Speaking following the trophy presentation, he said, “I’m very happy to have won. I really enjoyed playing over the past three days, even though today was a bit difficult because of the wind and cold. I always think I can win when I begin a tournament, and today I was confident. The birdies I scored made it easier.”
The Andalucian-based Norwegian added, “I’ve played quite a lot at Alcaidesa, I know the course well and that’s helped me against the others. It’s an interesting course. I am extremely proud to have won four times on The Gecko Tour. I’m confident I can have more victories before I finish. I’ll battle for the order of merit title until March and later play on the Challenge Tour.”
The Links and Heathland courses at Alcaidesa were joint venues for the seventh leg of The Gecko Tour season. Both were in excellent condition and the players praised their maintenance. It was a tough test for all; in fact, the cut after the second round, for the top-20 plus ties, was set at three-over. Extremely demanding.
Marcos Pastor was able to slightly increase his advantage at the head of the order of merit. The Córdoba player finished sixth, while Manuel Quirós, currently second and the only one who could overtake him, had a bad day and ended up four-over in 15th position. Nevertheless, the title of winter champion is still up for grabs.
The next leg of The Gecko Tour will be held at Mijas Golf Club (Los Lagos and Los Olivos) from 14 to 16 December. This will be the final event of the year for Europe’s premier winter tour.