An emotional Kristoffer Broberg put “six years of hell” behind him as he produced a battling 72 on the final day of the Dutch Open to hold off the chasing pack and claim his second European Tour title.
The Swede went into the final round with an eight-shot lead after Saturday’s 61 but found himself just two clear with two holes remaining after a back nine that included two bogeys and some excellent saves.
But he held his nerve to close out a three-shot win – his first on the European Tour since he secured his maiden title at the 2015 BMW Masters almost six years ago.
Broberg has had a bumpy ride since then, with hip and knee injuries contributing to him playing just 11 events between 2018 and 2020.
And he could not hold back the tears after his win at Bernardus Golf on Sunday.
Broberg said: “It feels good, I broke down on 18 but it’s been six years of hell. Three different surgeries on my left side but now I’m starting to get back where I’m supposed to be.
“The first few days I played really good. Today I was struggling like I was in the off-season. I thought my eight-shot lead would be enough today, but Matthias (Schmid) played some really beautiful golf.
“It’s been a nightmare (over the last six years). I was so close to quitting, it’s been so… I don’t know the word for it, but it’s been a tough time. This is way bigger (than his last win in 2015), more emotions.
“It’s going to be a game-changer. I’ll get into bigger events and can plan my schedule a little bit. Before this I was at home for a month. I didn’t know where my game was, but it was good enough.”
Germany’s Matthias Schmid finished alone in second place on 20 under after posting a closing 66, while Alejandro Canizares was two shots further back in third.
Broberg got off to a strong start, holing his birdie putt from 13 feet at the first to get to 24 under before giving the shot back on the third.
He safely parred his way to the turn but his nearest challengers were closing in, with the lead now down for four shots.
A birdie for Broberg at the 10th was followed by a valuable par save on the 11th but he put himself in danger of undoing all that hard work when he got into tree trouble at the 12th and decided against taking the safe option.
His gamble did not pay off as he hit a tuft of grass and watched his ball go backwards before settling in a bush.
He had to take a penalty drop from there and was now staring a big score, and a huge swing at the top of the leaderboard, in the face.
But after chipping to the rough next to a greenside bunker, Broberg holed his pitch to only drop one shot. And with Schmid narrowly missing his eagle putt at the same hole, the German only closed to within two shots when it could have been a lot worse for Broberg.
After watching Schmid make a double bogey at the 13th, Broberg put his tee shot at the 14th into the water to drop another shot.
But he avoided further damage with a great save from the sand at the 15th before birdieing the 17th to move three clear once more.
And a par at the last was good enough to clinch the trophy.