Alena Oppenheimer and Michael Thannhäuser are the 2023 European Mid-Amateur champions. Both German players emerged victorious from a dramatic final round at Bogogno Golf Resort in Italy.
France’s Cédric Bertin-Pennarun drew first blood in the men’s championship, sinking four birdies on the front-9 to become the new leader at -8. But the overnight leader, Marian Ludwig (GER) replied with a brillant eagle on the par-5 8th, to retake first place at -9.
On the back-9, both men seemed to struggle. Ludwig conceded four bogeys, while the Frenchman suffered two double bogeys in his final four holes.
The door was left open for pursuers, like England’s Ben Welch, who shared the lead at -8 with three holes left to play. But bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes forced him to settle for an eventual second place. Switzerland’s Steven Rojas, the 2021 champion, also fought his way into contention, but had to settle for a bronze medal.
The late day proved to favour Germany's Michael Thannhäuser. The EGA General Secretary conceded two bogeys early in the round, but fought back to even-par for the day by the turn. It was on the back-nine that he was able to seperate himself from the chasing pack. Four birdies and no bogeys meant a par on the 18th would secure a two-stroke victory at -8.
The German also earned the prize for the best player over 40 years of age, and an invitation to both the European Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships.
The battle was even tighter in the women’s championship. The first 10 holes belonged to Germany’s Alena Oppenheimer, who made four birdies in a row from the third to the sixth. But the overnight leader slipped-up on the par-3 11th, making a triple-bogey six to wipe out her advantage. Belgium’s Céline Manche quickly joined the lead at -3, with her third birdie of the day on the 14th.
Playing in the penultimate group, Ireland’s Jessica Ross put herself in contention with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15. But on the 18th green, she missed a putt that would have set the club-house lead at -3.
Saving a solid par on the 17th, Céline Manche reached the green in regulation on the final hole. She also faced a short putt to secure the title but missed, setting up a three-way playoff with Ross and Oppenheimer.
On the par-4 9th, the German player was the only one to make par, winning the title on the first playoff hole.
Jessica Ross would be awarded the silver medal with a lower final round score, while Céline Manche took home bronze. Germany's Rachel de Huevel claimed the over-40s prize in the ladies' championship, meaning all silverware at the first EGA event of the year would go to Germany.