Challenge Tour: Ex-teacher Tyler Koivisto wins Northern Ireland Open

Tyler Koivisto made a winning start to life on the Challenge Tour by completing a shock two-shot victory at the Northern Ireland Open Supported by The R&A.

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Northern Ireland Open Supported by the R&A

The 27-year-old spent three years as a school teacher after graduating from college and only gave up his job two years ago to pursue a career as a golfer, with Koivisto’s appearance in Ballymena his first ever in an Official Golf World Ranking (OWGR) event.

Koivisto took full advantage of his late invitation to play at the Galgorm Spa & Golf Report, with the American following a round-of-the-week 62 on Saturday with a three-under 67 on the final day to end the week on 13 under and receive the top prize of €32,000 (£28,500).

“It’s very special,” Koivisto said. “Golfing wise, probably the best week of my life. For my wife, our wedding, obviously, was the best week of my life.

“They called me up last week and asked me if I could fly to Northern Ireland and I said yes, I’m going to take any opportunity I can get. I was mostly playing mini tour stuff in the States, some Monday qualifiers and I taught for three years.

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“I think my mentality was good this week. I was really relaxed, not really caring and in terms of expectations I was just hitting golf shots and having fun. I had a blast this week on the course. I didn’t really worry too much about the results.”

Koivisto – starting the day with a three-shot lead – parred every hole of his front-nine before posting back-to-back birdies from the tenth and then cancelling out a blemish at the 14th by picking up a shot at the par-four next.

Kristian Krogh Johannessen had birdied three of his last four holes to close the gap to a shot and set the clubhouse target at 12 under, only for Koivisto to seal his win with a birdie at the par-five last.

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