Rock rallies to maiden victory
England's Robert Rock lead from start to finish to claim his maiden European Tour title after nine years on the circuit as he claimed the BMW Italian Open in Turin.
The 34-year-old Englishman finished with a solid 67 that left him 21-under for the tournament, one ahead of promising Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and compatriot Gary Boyd.
"I'm very surprised to finally win, but once I got started today I felt quite comfortable and I figured that this was as good a chance as I was ever going to have," said Rock, who had found his overnight lead transformed into a two-shot deficit thanks to a stunning front-nine of 29 from Olesen.
"I was surprised to see Thorbjorn Olesen shoot ten-under so that got me thinking that I needed to make a few birdies to win but right now it feels great."
It was Rock's first win in 209 starts in nine years on The European Tour, and the Englishman recognised that though the strength in depth of the circuit has proved difficult to transcend, he had never lost faith in his potential to triumph.
"I thought I would eventually do it," said Rock. "It's taken longer than planned but it's incredibly hard to win on this Tour.
"There are great players already out here and new ones arriving all the time like we saw today with Thorbjorn, so my best weeks have just not quite been good enough before. I've had good results but I've come up short. Finally, it's all gone my way."
Four consecutive birdies from the fifth, and further gains at the tenth and 11th regained the outright lead for Rock.
So often the nearly-man, Rock must have been conscious that one of his three runner-up finishes had been at this venue just two years ago, and the possibility of him suffering the same fate increased with a bogey at the 12th.
However, Rock rallied to sink a 15-footer for birdie on 13 as Boyd was signing for a 66 with a four-foot birdie at the last.
Needing to par his way in, Rock looked to be in big trouble when his drive at the 17th went way right into the trees.
However, he produced a fantastic escape onto the fairway, pitched to 12 feet and bravely holed his clutch putt for par.
"I was very lucky there," he added. "My option was to chip out but I reckoned if I did that I would be struggling to make par and would have to make a birdie at the last to win.
Scotland's Pete Whiteford claimed his third consecutive top-ten finish, and his fourth of the season so far, as he finished fourth on 19-under.
"Three top-tens are unlike me. Normally it's two missed cuts, but the form's there," said Whiteford.
"I was on Challenge Tour for five years - I think I had honorary membership - and also played the EuroPro Tour. I served my time and hopefully we don't look back.
"They were great fun but this is where I want to be. My game's come round the last month or two and I was looking for a high finish this week rather than getting money to keep my card. That's done and dusted now and I can press on now."
The title tilts of home favourites Francesco Molinari and 18-year-old prodigy Matteo Manassero faltered on the final day as neither managed to mount a serious challenge as they finished in a share of eighth place.