Friday 15 November 2019

Moynihan flying but Dunne facing uphill battle to keep card

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

Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan got off to a flyer but Paul Dunne faces an uphill battle to keep his European Tour card after opening with a six-over 77 in the Amundi Open de France in Paris.

The Greystones star (26) lies a tenuous 116th in the Race to Dubai with only the top 117 keeping their cards after next week's Portugal Masters.

He knows he must at least make one of the last two cuts this year to avoid a trip to the Qualifying School.

But having missed 12 cuts this year, including six of his last seven, it will require a huge turnaround to make the weekend at Le Golf National.

The 2017 British Masters winner is 113th in the 117-strong field and projected to slip to 118th in the Race to Dubai.

While ranked first for strokes gained around the green yesterday, he was dead last for approach play, losing more than six strokes to the field after missing 11 greens in regulation.

Most of the damage was done midway through his opening nine when he followed a triple-bogey seven at the 15th (his sixth) with a double-bogeyed five at the 16th.

He dropped another at the first which saw him slip to six-over and while he parred his way home, he's five shots outside the projected cut.

His former Walker Cup team-mate Moynihan (25) has even more work to do to keep his card as he lies 162nd in the Race to Dubai.

The Portrane man likely needs top-five finishes in his last two events to avoid a return to the Qualifying School next month.

But he's given himself a chance after making four birdies and a bogey in a three-under 68 that left him tied for 13th, just three strokes behind Kiwi Ryan Fox and South Africa's George Coetzee.

"My long game was very solid and I putted nicely," said Moynihan, who turned in level par but then followed excellent par saves at his 10th, 11th and 13th holes with three birdies in his last five.

Coetzee and Fox shot six-under 65s to lead by a shot from American Kurt Kitayama, Scotland's Richie Ramsay and France's Benjamin Hebert.

On the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell continued his promising return to form with a bogey-free 68 in the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Winner of the 2008 Ballantine's Championship at nearby Pinx Golf Club, the Portrush star (40) was tied for ninth, four strokes behind Byeong Hun An on four-under-par.

An shot an eight-under 64 to lead by one stroke from Joaquin Niemann with Brooks Koepka tied 15th after 69.

Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin also started well in the Challenge Tour's Hainan Open in China.

He was tied for sixth after a three-under 69 and just four shots behind Frenchman Antoine Rozner.

Sharvin is ranked fifth in the Road to Mallorca standings thanks to his sixth top-five of the season at the Stone Irish Challenge on Sunday.

He's already certain to win one of ten European Tour cards but he's desperate to chalk up his maiden win and secure an even stronger card, and more starts, on the main tour next season.

Open de France, Live, Sky Sports, 11.0; CJ Cup, Sky Sports, 3.0am (tomorrow)

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