Ballyliffin’s Damian Mooney closed with an immaculate 67 to finish ninth in the Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey and clinch his place in the BMW PGA for the first time since 2004.
As Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon spectacularly eagled the third sudden-death hole to pip England’s Matt Cort to the title, the big-hitting Belfast man kept a bogey off his card on the Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club to seal his return to Wentworth next May. Scores
Mooney birdied the third, seventh, 14th and 16th in an impressive four-under par effort to finish on three under par, a shot inside the Top-10 who earned starts in the European Tour’s flagship event.
Foyle Golf Centre’s Brian McElhinney (73) and St Margaret’s John Kelly (74), the Irish Order of Merit winner, tied for 20th on six over.
According to the PGA:
Hutcheon (67) and Cort (70) had tied at nine-under-par for the 54-hole tournament just ahead of overnight leader Matt Ford.
But following pars on the first and second extra holes, Hutcheon hit a five iron to six feet to secure the £15,000 title with Cort only able to make birdie in increasingly gusty conditions.
Hutcheon’s spoils include a place in next year’s BMW PGA Championship and the Wales Open but he admitted he was close to missing out altogether after a dreadful run of 18 holes midway through the tournament.
“I’m really chuffed to win because although I played well today I feel the reason I won was the last 14 holes of the second round and the first four holes this morning where I played so badly and really struggled but still managed to cover those holes in just about level par,” said the Banchory pro.
“My game had vanished and I had to say to myself you’re out of this and a spot at Wentworth unless you pull your finger out and then it was a momentum thing and I started to play a bit better.”
Hutcheon’s final round 67 was a veritable rollercoaster with three bogeys, including two on the first two holes, five birdies and an eagle.
His fifth and decisive birdie came at the
18th which he birdied for the third time this week to book his place in the play-off. It also erased for good the double bogey demon on the same hole last year which cost him an automatic PGA Cup place.
“It’s really a huge honour to be the PGA’s number one, I’m delighted to win it again and it caps off a really good season for me bar winning my singles in the PGA Cup,” added Hutcheon who also won the Tartan Tour and Scottish PGA Championship.
The players were forced to briefly leave the course for 40 minutes following a lightning strike and on resumption Ford saw his hopes go up in smoke with bogeys on 15 and 16.
Despite a superb birdie on the last hole his 72 left him one place behind the joint leaders.
Meanwhile Cort holed a brilliant up and down on 18 to make the play-off and despite eventually losing out to Hutcheon was happy to book a return to Wentworth after missing out last year.
“I was head to head with Matt (Ford) for a lot of the time and thought it was between him and me,” said Cort (pictured below celebrating his putt on the 18).
“I played nicely all day but took too much club on 18 and holed a putt on the last which, given the circumstances, was probably one of the best putts of my life.
“I said all week finishing first or second would be a massive bonus but having played well all week it was a shame I couldn’t get to win.
“Now I’m just looking forward to enjoying some home time and giving my young son Charlie a squeeze because it’s the first time I’ve been away since he’s been born.”
Ford was left rueing a double bogey on the first and a bogey on 16 where he found the water on both occasions.
“They were a couple of poor shots but probably got punished more than they deserved,” he said.
“I played great in the middle stretch including an eagle on seven and birdie on the last but left a few putts short.”
Ford can console himself with earning entry to next year’s BMW PGA Championship as can Ian Ellis (Costessey Park), Jason Levermore (Channels), Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf), Mooney, Mark Hooper (Rayleight), Chris Kelly (Cawder) and Liam Bond (Marriott St Pierre)