Out of a field of 144, France’s Benjamin Hebert and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui are about to go head-to-head in the final of the inaugural Belgian Knockout.
Here’s how the pair made their way from 144 to two.
Frenchman Hebert set himself up for a good week with an impressive showing in the stroke-play. A five-under total put him in a tie for eighth and very comfortably into the weekend knockout.
He made slightly tougher work of the knockout stages, though. He and James Morrison could not be separated after nine holes in the round-of-64 and headed to play-off, which Hebert would win. In the round-of-32 the world-number-247 could only scrape past Thomas Linard by a single-shot. The round-of-16 round was somewhat of a stroll though. Opponent Stephen Gallagher opened with a triple-bogey and that pretty much did all the work for Hebert, who won by two shots.
Into Sunday and Hebert was first up against fellow countryman Mike Lorenzo-Vera in the quarter-finals and, barring a bogey on the opening hole, he posted a faultless card to edge into the semi-finals by one shot.Embed from Getty Images
Herbert faced the impressive James Heath in the semi-final, who had finished second in the stroke-play portion of the tournament, and initially fell behind after Heath’s third-hole birdie. Heath lost that shot immediately with a bogey on the fourth and from there Hebert knocked in birdies on five and six, and then Heath birdies on seven and eight. The pair were all square heading to the last but a fine birdie three from Hebert finished the job and ensured he would make the final against Adrian Otaegui.
Otaegui finished alongside Hebert in tied eighth in the opening stroke-play, matching his 68 and 69 in reverse order.
It was smooth sailing through the round-of-64 with a two-shot victory over Erik Van Rooyen. It was slightly more testing in the next round as it took a birdie on the eighth to reach two-under and edge past Maximilian Kieffer by a single-shot. There was only a one-shot margin in his victory over Matthew Southgate too, that progressed him through to Sunday’s final rounds, as three birdies and not a single blemish on his card rocked him to three-under.
As Hebert went up against countryman Lorenzo-Vera in the quarters, Otaegui had a national showdown of his own with the stroke-play leader Jorge Campillo. Campillo’s match-play fortunes would not match his stroke-play, though; bogeys on the fourth and sixth left an uphill battle he would succumb to and Otaegui made it into the semi-final by two shots.Embed from Getty Images
If there’s any risk of nerves overcoming you in the semi-finals, you would hope for a collapse from your opponent early on. Otaegui got just that as David Drysdale opened their encounter with a double-bogey. He added a bogey on the fourth and Otaegui had not had to even break par to sit in a three-shot lead. A birdie on the fifth for Otaegui extended that lead to four and there was no coming back for Drysdale as Otaegui made the final by four shots.
The pair will now face off over nine more holes in a bid to become the maiden Belgian Knockout champion.