Then amateur Gavin Moynihan during the 2014 Irish Open at Fota Island Resort, Cork.
By John Manley
Gavin Moynihan took a big step in his advancement as a professional by reaching the final round of the Andalucia Costa del Sol Match Play 9 in Spain. After just eking into the match play portion of this tournament via stroke play, Moynihan won four nine-hole matches to reach the finals against Aaron Rai.
Rai took a quick 2 up lead in their finals match, but Moynihan responded to square matters with birdies at the third and fourth holes. Rai holed a 25-foot putt to halve the fifth hole, which heralded a change in momentum. The Englishman went on to win the next two holes, putting Moynihan’s back up against the wall at the eighth. When Moynihan narrowly missed a birdie putt to win the eighth hole, Rai had only to knock in his putt from five feet to halve the hole and clinch the match.
Moynihan’s performance boosts his status on the Challenge Tour. Whereas he was limited to only certain events previously, he pretty much has his pick from here on. Currently 10th on the Tour’s Order of Merit, he needs to finish in the top 15 to secure a European Tour card for 2018.
Michael Hoey continues to show a resumption of form as he finished joint-11th in the Rocco Forte Open at Verdura in Agrigento, Sicily.Hoey shot 61 in the first round to share the lead with Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg.
“My best ever score by two shots, no bogeys, doesn’t get much better,” Hoey said after the round.
A second-round 68 allowed him to stay in the mix, tied for second with Soderberg, two strokes behind Alvaro Quiros.
“It was hard towards the end,” Hoey said after Friday’s round. “I used up a lot of adrenaline yesterday. I hadn’t been in that position for a long time, to feel nervous on the golf course. I was a little bit tired on the last seven or eight holes.”
Hoey found the going over the weekend a bit more troublesome as he posted scores of 75 and 72. Whereas he had only three bogeys over the first 36 holes, he picked up nine, as well as a double, over the weekend without enough birdies to compensate.
Gary Hurley finished with a share of 23rd place. He posted rounds of 67, 66, 72 and 73.
Low scores of the tournament belonged to Alvaro Quiros and Zander Lombard, who finished 14 strokes under par, with Quiros prevailing in the playoff. They had six strokes on Hoey and eight on Hurley.
Seamus Power finished joint-57th in the Byron Nelson Invitational at the Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Tex. Rounds of 69, 69, 72 and 72 left the Waterford man two strokes over par and 14 behind Billy Horschel and Jason Day, who had the low number (Horschel won the playoff on the first extra hole).
Rory McIlroy won’t be playing in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. He withdrew, citing ongoing complications from a rib injury suffered earlier this year.
“I have been advised to take a conservative approach to my recovery,” McIlroy said. “It’s a disappointing decision to have to make, but I have to ensure I make a full recovery.”
McIlroy cited the U.S. Open as his next goal.
U.S. OPEN QUALIFYING
Stephen Watts, a University of Toledo junior from Larne, Co. Antrim, made it through local qualifying, although he needed some late heroics to get the job done. Four strokes over par through 16 holes, he birdied 17 and 18 to work his way into a playoff, which he won for the final spot in the June 5 sectional. Watts, who plays out of Cairndhu Golf Club in Ballygalley, Co. Antrim, was recently named to the Academic All-Mid-American Conference Team. An Exercise Science Major, he carried a 3.518 grade point average.