Phelan looks to positives after near miss in Morocco
 Richie Ramsay. Picture © Getty Images

Richie Ramsay. Picture © Getty Images

Kevin Phelan reluctantly shrugged off his bad luck with the putter and looked to the positives as he took a giant step towards winning back his tour card in Morocco.

The Mount Juliet touring professional shot four straight 70s to finish two shots behind winner Richie Ramsay in the Trophée Hassan II, clinching in a share of third place on eight under par.

While he was initially disappointed by his failure to break the 30-putt barrier in the last two rounds, he quickly recognised that his second Top-3 inside a month has given him a great chance off winning back his full playing rights card.

"I played nicely all week, didn't hole many putts over the last two days but ball striking was very good," said the 24year old, who is now 43rd in the Race to Dubai with €156,034 after earning €61,250.

"I had lots of chances and didn't find myself struggling for par too often which was nice. It would have been nice to hole some more putts. I was in with a great shout coming down the stretch and did my best. I am quite happy with the week."

Phelan tied for second in the Joburg Open just a month ago and while he had chances to challenge for the title coming down the stretch, the putts slipped by the hole and Ramsay overcame an early tripe bogey to win is third European Tour event.

"It's been a great start to the year," said Phelan, who made just over €174,000 from 26 starts last year and still lost his card by around €60,000. "I've had two Top 10s in all of last year and I've had two Top-5s already this year. So it is nice to get off to a good start and build on it."

Reflecting on his tenuous category — he barely scraped into the field in Morocco — he told European Tour Radio: "I didn't really know which tour to play this year between Challenge and the European Tour. With  two good finishes I will just try to play as many on the big tour as I can."

Phelan will look back at the six foot birdie putt at the 11th that would have given him a share of the lead had he not misread it. But Ramsay was good value for his third European Tour title as he overcame a front nine disaster to clinch a one shot victory over Romain Wattel. 

The Scot moved clear at the top of the leaderboard with four birdies in a row from the third hole, but then surrendered all of those shots on the next two holes, bogeying the seventh before an errant tee shot was followed by two poor chips on the par three eighth hole, leading to a triple bogey six.

Ramsay steadied himself with tricky par putts either side of the turn, and then moved back to the top of the packed leaderboard with a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th hole. He eventually signed for a three under par round of 69 and a ten under par total of 278, and although Wattel birdied the 17th hole to close the gap to a single shot, the Frenchman could not chip in for birdie on the last, meaning Ramsay secured his first pay cheque of the season in some style, having struggled with a back injury so far in 2015.

“It is a great honour to win this dagger," Ramsay said. "I have a collection of trophies at home in a cabinet. It is nice to look at them and remind me of wins and this will sit pride of place with the US Amateur trophy, and the Omega European Masters and the South African Open. 

"Those are the four that feel special. It’s a great tradition to have this dagger. It is a tournament unlike any other and it is a piece of history. It will be great when we have children to say this is where I went to Morocco and won a dagger.”

Wattel signed for a closing round of 70 to finish runner up for second time in his European Tour career, having also been joint runner up behind Ramsay at the 2012 Omega European Masters.

South African George Coetzee, who needed a victory to secure an invited to next month’s Masters Tournament, finished in a six-way share of third position on eight under par after a final round of 70.

José Maria Olazábal, Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain in 2012, recorded his first top ten finish since the Irish Open two years ago, carding a round of 66 for a share of ninth place on seven under par.  

"It’s nice to have a round like this and a tournament like this for confidence, especially going to Augusta,” Olazabal said

Michael Hoey closed with a 67 to share 34th on two under and pick up €9,900.

Trophee Hassan II (par 72) — Final

278 R Ramsay  (Sco) 72 66 71 69,

279 R Wattel  (Fra) 68 74 67 70,

280 K Phelan (Irl) 70 70 70 70, P Larrazábal (Esp) 70 69 73 68, C Wood  (Eng) 67 72 74 67, M Lundberg (Swe) 70 75 66 69, G Coetzee (RSA) 67 72 71 70, J Van Zyl (RSA) 69 71 70 70,

281 B Evans  (Eng) 69 70 74 68, R Bland (Eng) 69 70 71 71, J Olazábal (Esp) 69 76 70 66, M Schneider (Ger) 73 69 72 67, W Ormsby (Aus) 71 72 68 70,

282 S Kjeldsen (Den) 68 73 69 72, A Wall (Eng) 68 72 72 70, M Foster (Eng) 73 72 71 66,

283 P Edberg (Swe) 71 71 71 70, A Marshall (Eng) 71 73 69 70, B Ritthammer (Ger) 71 70 71 71, T Fleetwood  (Eng) 70 71 73 69, D Horsey (Eng) 70 71 69 73, E Pepperell (Eng) 71 74 69 69, S Benson (Eng) 73 68 72 70,

284 J Quesne  (Fra) 70 75 72 67, S Jamieson  (Sco) 74 69 71 70, M Kieffer (Ger) 73 73 68 70,

285 D Howell (Eng) 70 70 77 68, G Bourdy (Fra) 75 71 68 71, E Grillo (Arg) 74 69 67 75, T Lewis (Eng) 69 77 71 68, M Lorenzo-Vera  (Fra) 74 72 70 69, R Green (Aus) 68 70 76 71, B Hebert  (Fra) 75 71 69 70,

286 R Karlsson (Swe) 72 74 68 72, A Saddier (Fra) 65 77 71 73, J Campillo (Esp) 71 69 73 73, J Lagergren (Swe) 72 68 75 71, B An (Kor) 72 71 71 72, R Rock (Eng) 74 72 72 68, O Wilson (Eng) 68 73 73 72, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 69 69 74 74, E De La Riva  (Esp) 68 75 71 72, A McArthur  (Sco) 71 71 67 77, M Lampert (Ger) 68 75 73 70, M Hoey  (Nir) 70 73 76 67,

287 S Kapur (Ind) 72 73 67 75, R Jacquelin (Fra) 70 76 70 71, M Carlsson  (Swe) 73 70 70 74, M Korhonen (Fin) 68 74 71 74,

288 M Orrin (Eng) 70 70 72 76, C Paisley  (Eng) 71 70 72 75, J Walters (RSA) 71 73 71 73, A Johnston (Eng) 72 71 77 68,

289 P Oriol (Esp) 71 75 69 74,

290 D Drysdale (Sco) 67 73 76 74, L Slattery (Eng) 77 69 76 68, N Fasth (Swe) 71 73 74 72, P Waring  (Eng) 70 74 72 74,

291 O Farr (Wal) 70 68 74 79, F Fritsch  (Ger) 70 72 76 73, M Manassero (Ita) 72 71 72 76,

292 N Elvira  (Esp) 73 72 73 74,

293 C Lloyd (Eng) 76 69 75 73,

294 R Finch  (Eng) 75 71 77 71, M Matsumura (Jpn) 72 74 74 74,

296 E Espana (Fra) 73 70 76 77,

297 K Broberg (Swe) 73 70 74 80, O Fisher  (Eng) 74 71 76 76, R Santos  (Por) 69 72 73 83,

298 J Morrison  (Eng) 72 73 72 81, P Widegren  (Swe) 73 73 69 83,

300 S Hend (Aus) 71 73 84 72.