Last updated Saturday 23rd October 2021 4:49 p.m.

Golfer Daniel Hillier held his nerve under immense pressure to birdie the final hole and claim his first-ever European Challenge Tour title at the Challenge Costa Brava in Spain.

The New Zealander was two shots behind leader Ricardo Gouveia heading into the final round on Saturday (NZT) but managed to clinch a dramatic victory on the 72nd hole following a thrilling battle down the stretch with two-time Challenge Tour winner Marcus Helligkilde.

Hillier, from Wellington, pocketed 32,000 euros (NZ$52,000) and leaped 27 places to 18th on the Road to Mallorca standings to give himself a big chance of gaining his full European Tour card next year. The top-20 after the final tournament in Mallorca on November 4-7 earn their tickets to the big time.

Both Hillier and Helligkilde were on 18-under par approaching the final hole and the Swede’s closing par meant that Hillier had to birdie to avoid a playoff.

After hitting his approach shot within four feet, the 23-year-old was left with a nerve-wracking putt. Hillier admitted he was “shaking in my boots”, but still managed to sink the putt for a six-under 65, a 19-under total, and a first overseas professional victory, by one shot.

The Challenge Tour is the second-tier men’s professional golf tour in Europe. It is operated by the PGA European Tour.

Hillier was formerly New Zealand’s top male amateur and turned pro in 2019, the same year he played his first major at the US Open after grabbing a late qualifying spot.

Daniel Hillier made a birdie on the final hole to win the Challenge Costa Brava golf tournament in Spain.
Octavio Passos/Getty Images
Daniel Hillier made a birdie on the final hole to win the Challenge Costa Brava golf tournament in Spain.

“I’m pretty overwhelmed at the moment, to be honest,” Hillier said. “It’s been a pretty unreal week from the get-go. We had some tough conditions to battle with, but I managed to battle through that and probably had the round of my life in round three.

“To follow that up today and to hole a nice put on the last is just unbelievable, I can’t really believe I’m standing here right now.”

“I’m shaking in my boots really, [the final putt] it was massive and just the fact that I’ve been over here since April away from family, I spent the first three months on my own and then my girlfriend came over and she’s been a massive help and has made everything a lot easier.

“It’s probably been one of the most mentally taxing years that I’ve ever had so to get a win at the end of the season, I’m just more than grateful that I am standing here right now.”

Five-time Challenge Tour winner Ricardo Gouveia finished in a tie for third alongside four-time European Tour winner Matteo Manassero, while Marcel Schneider, Hennie Du Plessis and Frederic Lacroix were two shots further back in a tie for fifth spot on 13-under par.

Daniel Hillier secured the trophy on the final hole of Challenge Costa Brava in Spain.