Sunday 27 May 2018

Money shot for Moynihan after late birdie seals Tour card on 'brutal' last day

Gavin Moynihan. Photo: Sportsfile
Gavin Moynihan. Photo: Sportsfile

Brian Keogh in Salou

Gavin Moynihan hit one of the pressure shots of his life to birdie the last then survived a nerve-shredding 50-minute wait before he snatched his card and a chance to play for megabucks on the European Tour in 2018.

With only the top 25 and ties winning cards after six gruelling rounds at Lumine Golf Club near Tarragona, the Dubliner (23) hit a towering draw with a four-iron 20 feet below the hole - the ultimate definition of a money shot - and two-putted for a two-under 69 to move inside the magic number on 13-under par.

There were still players on the course that could have taken the qualifying mark to 14-under and left Moynihan (right) devastated.

In the end, it came down to big Christofer Blomstrand but the Swede missed a 25-footer for birdie at the last and Moynihan could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Hoping now to get up to 20 European Tour starts next year, a delighted Moynihan said: "The last 15 minutes were brutal. He had a 25-footer down the hill there and I honestly couldn't watch him. It was a long wait. It felt like an eternity. But now I am very happy.

"It wasn't that I was nervous today, I was just stressed. People say you don't really understand what it's like at Q-School until you're there, but on that back nine, I knew exactly what they meant. You just want to get in and get the 18 over and done with and now it is."

It's been a remarkable year for the Mount Juliet touring professional, who had nowhere to play less than a year ago.

"From where I was 11 months ago, when I had lost my swing and then had to go to the Europro Tour Q-School in March to where I am now, I couldn't really have asked for much more," Moynihan said.

"I had a win on the Europro, a lot of top 10s and a few other chances this year. So to come here and get a decent card after having nothing a year ago, I can't be selfish and complain about today. Overall, it has been a very, very positive year."

Derry's Ruaidhri McGee finished seven shots outside the qualifying places on six-under par after a closing 70 but by making the cut here, he now has a strong Challenge Tour card for next year.

Moynihan has bigger plans and while he did not manage the top 10 finish that would have given him an even stronger Tour card, he wasn't complaining after a nerve-shattering back nine.

Tied 17th overnight, just a shot inside the top 25, he birdied the first, second and fourth and looked set to cruise home until the birdies dried up.

Bad swings at the 12th and 15th led to bogeys and with scoring red hot, he suddenly found himself outside the top 25 for the first time all week.

After birdie chances slipped by from eight feet and 20 feet on the 16th and 17th, he needed a birdie at the 539-yard 18th and hit the best pressure shot of his career so far.

"To birdie the last there when I knew I needed it to have a chance, was the most pleasing shot of the week," he said. "My goal was the top 10 but top 25 gives me a few extra starts and with a few invitations to a couple of the bigger events on top of what I already have, I will hopefully have a decent season."

The pressure didn't bother England's Sam Horsfield (21), who closed with an eight-under 63 to top the leaderboard by eight strokes on 27-under par as 33 players won cards, including past winners Kristoffer Broberg, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Anders Hansen.

Irish Independent

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