Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee battled back from bad start in the EMC Challegne Open to remain in the hunt for a European Tour card via the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman rankings.
The 24-year old Derry man bogeyed the 10th, his first, and then doubld the 13th and 14th to go five over at Rome’s Olgiata Golf Club.
But he made three birdies in his last 11 holes for a two over 72 and tied 29th finish worth €1,422 that keeps him 21st in the money list, just €13,182 outside the top 15 who will get European Tour cards at the end of the season.
There are just three events remaining, starting with this week’s Volopa Irish Challenge at Mount Wolseley and McGee will be keen to finisn the season strongly.
He ended up on seven over in Italy, 12 strokes behind Matteo Delpodio, who gave Italy a home winner as he claimed a sensational three shot victory.
The 30 year old led the tournament from start to finish, sealing a maiden Challenge Tour win with a level par final round of 71 as he held off a final day charge from Gary Boyd.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment and to have a victory here in Italy, in Rome, is just a dream come true, a fantastic moment…
“Walking up 18 was a dream. My mum was here, and it’s the first time she’s followed me at a Challenge Tour event, and I knew I was winning the tournament, so it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on the golf course and I will keep that moment forever.”
279 M Delpodio (Ita) 69 68 71 71,
282 G Boyd (Eng) 72 73 69 68,
284 E Dubois (Fra) 72 71 70 71, S Soderberg (Swe) 72 69 71 72, T Linard (Fra) 72 73 71 68,
285 F Bergamaschi (Ita) 73 71 72 69, B Virto Astudillo (Esp) 70 70 69 76, R Gouveia (Por) 72 69 71 73, S Griffiths (Eng) 71 71 72 71,
286 M Orrin (Eng) 74 72 71 69, M Jonzon (Swe) 73 71 72 70
291 R McGee (Irl) 74 72 72 73
European Senior Tour — Denis O’Sullivan closed with a 73 to finish 52nd in the French Riviera Masters and squeak into the field for the season-ending MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius.
The top 60 money winners get to tee it up in Constance Belle Mare Plage and O;Sullivan’s cheque for €968 was enough to get him to 57th in the rankings.
England’s Simon P Brown claimed his third Senior Tour title after holding off a final day surge from his compatriot Barry Lane.
The tournament had been reduced to 36 holes after torrential rain caused the first round to be abandoned.
But the sun shone on the final day at Terre Blanche Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, and Brown took advantage of the benign conditions with a flawless round of 68 for a ten under par aggregate total.
Ronan Rafferty tied for 46th with Des Smyth 57th and Philip Walton 60th.
Walton, Smyth and O’Sullivan were the only Irish qualifiers for the final event.
Final Round Scores: 73 D O’Sullivan (Irl), 74 D Smyth (Irl), 75 R Rafferty (Nir), 8 P Walton (Irl).