Colm Moriarty climbed six places to 41st in the Challenge Tour rankings when he finished tied ninth in The Princess by Schüco at the PGA of Sweden National.
The 32-year old Glasson professional, who turned professional nearly nearly eight years ago, closed with a three under 69 to finish seven shots behind winner Ricardo Santos of Portugal.
The Athlone native’s hopes of making a final day charge for victory were halted when he bogeyed the third. But he didn’t drop another shot after that and picked up a birdie two at the sixth to turn in level par before racing home in 33 with further birdies at the 11th, 14th and 17th.
He earned a cheque for €4,000 to take his season’s earnings on the Challenge Tour to €19,988, which leaves him less than €10,000 outside the crucial top 20 in the rankings who will be awarded European Tour cards at the end of the season.
Santos finished with a sparkling six under par 66 to overhaul overnight leader Andreas Hartø (73) and win by three shots from England’s Daniel Brooks on 16 under par.
“It is just like a dream,” said the 28-year old from Faro who now tops the rankings with €75,036 from 11 starts. “I’m feeling so great. I’m in a very good position now to get my European Tour card through the Challenge Tour Rankings.
“All day I have been feeling so many emotions, but now I can relax and enjoy it and celebrate with my friends and family. I was a little nervous at the start and again after 15 holes, because I knew the last three holes are real danger holes.
“But the birdies helped a lot and after that point I knew the title was mine unless I did something silly. The putts on the 13th and 14th were gimmes – the 13th almost an eagle - and on 15th and 16th they were good putts, probably six and eight metres.”
Santos, who received a €32,000 winner’s cheque from tournament founder Henrik Stenson, added: “I’ve been playing well for a long time so I feel like this win has been coming a while.”
Hartø blazed to the top of the leaderboard with a third round 63, but could not repeat that form on the last day.
“It’s okay, I’m not too disappointed,” said 22 year old, who won twice on the Challenge Tour last season – the first time as an amateur. “I came into this week only to enjoy it and I’ve had some good rounds.
“I just didn’t make anything today – my putter was not as hot as yesterday. It’s hard to follow up a round like yesterday. Ricardo did extremely well. He deserves this win, no doubt about it.”
Brooks birdied the 18th to claim the runner-up spot on his own and was thrilled to record his best Challenge Tour performance to date.
He said: “I’m over the moon with second place. It’s the second time I’ve got myself in contention and both times I’ve played very solid. I didn’t have any bogeys today, which was pleasing.
“I was keeping an eye on the leaderboard all the way round, and I wasn’t going anywhere because I wasn’t making any bogeys. Someone else has gone one better and won it but I’m happy with the way I handled it.”
As for the other Irish in the Challenge Tour rankings, Simon Thornton is 84th, Niall Kearney 105th, Jonny Caldwell 175th and Tim Rice 232nd.