Noel Fox captured his first win as a professional when he beat Elliot Saltman with a birdie four at the first extra hole in the Faithlegg Irish Championship in Waterford.
The pair finished on nine under on a fantastic final day to force a play-off down the 18th. Fox took the upper hand as Saltman’s tee shot struck the top of a tree close to the tee while the Irishman found the fairway.
With a tricky lie, Saltman scuffed the ball down the 17th fairway and his third shot onto the edge of the green left him with a tricky chip for a four.
With the pressure released Fox played a simple pitch onto the green, Saltman got close with his chip but it didn’t matter as Fox holed his birdie putt to scoop the trophy and £10,000, making it three Irish winners in a row on this year’s Tour.
“I’m over the moon,” said Fox. “An hour ago I didn’t think I’d be in this position but I had a good day today and I’m delighted to have won.”
Fox shot 67 in his final round while Saltman had a putt at the last to win the tournament but he narrowly missed and had to settle for the play-off with a 68. Although the big Scotsman was disappointed, he was quick to praise his Irish opponent.
“I had two stupid bogeys today but credit to Noel, going three-three-three at the end is a great score,” said Saltman, who admitted he played a little too quick on the play-off hole.
“I went for a big one on 18 and clipped the tree, it landed in a divot and I just gave it everything to try to get it on but it just didn’t happen,” he said. Noel took full advantage but had sympathy for the runner-up.
“He was unlucky with his drive, it wasn’t a bad shot at all,” said Fox. “My goal was just to get down in four as comfortably as possible.”
Adding to the par-birdie-birdie finished praised by Saltman, Fox chipped in at the eighth for an eagle in his five under final round, adding to scores of 72 in the first round and 68 in his second round – a tournament total of 207.
The round of the day though went to Damian Mooney (Nevada Bobs Belfast) whose 63 is a new course record at Faithlegg. The Northern Irishman was one over going into the final round but his fantastic effort of four back to back birdies from the fourth hole got him going in style.
He repeated the feat down the back nine with four straight birdies from 13, and he picked up another at the last to beat Robert McGuirk's course record of eight under, set at this tournament last year – and he could have done even more damage with a little bit of luck.
“I actually missed a couple of putts – I lipped out on a few holes so it could’ve been even better but I’m delighted with how it went,” said Mooney.
“I‘ve been playing well recently but I got off to a bad start in the first round but I improved yesterday and obviously again today.”
Mooney finished tied second with Welshman Mark Laskey (The Shire) who shot 67 in the final round. Irishman Alan Murray (Greystones GC) continued his fine form on the tour with eight birdies in his 67 to finish in joint third place with Tom Haylock (HES) at seven under, tied for fifth.
Ian Keenan (Royal Liverpool) and Andrew Bradley (Doncaster) were a shot behind them tied for seventh, while 19 year-old South African Darryn Lloyd (Toft Hotel GC) continues to impress with a round of five under today taking him to five under for the tournament, where he joined four other players in a tie for ninth spot.
The Ivobank EuroPro Tour takes a three-week break after a fantastic start to the Tour at Wensum Valley, The Shire, Collingtree Park and Faithlegg – keep checking the site before we head to Bovey Castle in Devon as we will be announcing more tournaments and the first Peak Performance Player of the Month award.