Paul McGinley clinched his biggest tour cheque for more than two and half years as Bernd Wiesberger sealed a dominant maiden European Tour victory at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea.
The 26-year old Austrian holed a 20 foot birdie on the final hole for a 68 to finish five shots clear of Richie Ramsay on 18 under par at Blackstone Golf Club.
McGinley closed with a 70, getting up and down from a bunker at the last for a birdie, to share seventh on nine under and clinch his first top 10 finish since last September’s KLM Open, where he was sixth.
He earned €51,067 - his biggest cheque on tour since he was ninth in the 2009 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship more than two and a half years ago - to move up to 98th in the Race to Dubai standings and revive hopes of regaining his full playing privileges.
Having a full tour card is important for McGinley, who needs to be seen as well as heard as often as possible next year if he sees off opposition from the likes of Miguel Angel Jiménez and is named as Ireland’s first Ryder Cup captain.
Looking forward to the BMW PGA at Wentworth and a return to his amateur stomping ground of Royal Portrush for June’s Irish Open, McGinley said: “I played very well. I had a double-bogey on the ninth today which took the wind out of my sails a bit, but I did really well to regroup on the back nine.
“I played really solid, it’s probably the best I’ve played of the four days today. Shot 70, my second-best score of the week so overall I’m pretty pleased.”
The 45-year old Dubliner has eased his way into the season following knee problems but now plans to play a full schedule for the rest of the year and feels good about his game despite being forced to rely on his place in the Top 40 on the Career Money List for starts.
McGinley added: “It does bode well. Hopefully have a good season going forward, and I’m particularly looking forward to the Irish Open.
“I think it’s going to be great this year in Portrush. I played there last week and it was nice to see the course again. I have not played it since I was an amateur. Looking forward to going up there, and as I say, a lot to look forward to.
“I think this is only my fourth event this year, and now from Wentworth on, which is my next event, I’ll play a full schedule from then on.”
Five clear starting the day, Wiesberger saw his lead reduced to three strokes when Ramsay, who closed with an impressive 65, birdied the 16th.
But Wiesberger stepped up another gear on the way in and picked up shots himself on the 15th and 16th holes before a memorable birdie on the last.
“I can’t say I wasn’t nervous on the first tee box, but when I got the first shot out there on the fairway, it was a bit of a relief,” Wiesberger said.
“I was under a bit of pressure when I had to hang in there on 13 and 14, and I was able to make a couple of good shots, and great putts, and I was pleased to finish the way I did.
“That long putt on the last and the celebration reflects the last four days which were awesome, and I really enjoyed it out there today.
“I felt comfortable out there. I thought I just had to do what I did the last couple of days, hit those greens and make two putts, and make a couple of birdies. It was key for me to do that and I hung in there. I was very proud of how I finished the round up.”
The two-time European Challenge Tour winner, who finished on 18 under par 270, did not drop a shot for the final 59 holes of the tournament following his double bogey on the 13th hole on Thursday. He became the third Austrian to win on The European Tour following Markus Brier and Martin Wiegele.
“Every sportsman dreams about winning, especially a tournament that was so well organised and has such great players in the field,” he said. “To play the way I did this week is very special.”
Ramsay, winner of the South African Open in 2010, carded seven birdies to finish on 13 under par 275, with Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (66) and Australian Marcus Fraser (70) two shots further back on 11 under par 277.
Spaniard Jiménez (69) finished tied fifth on ten under par 278, along with Englishman Anthony Wall who eagled the last for a 67.
Shane Lowry ‘s final round 70 saw him fall three spots to tied 32nd on four under with Gareth Maybin two shots further back in tied 38th after a 71.
Damien McGrane ended up joint 61st after a 74 that featured 33 putts.