King of the links — Moynihan set for second Walker Cup thanks to Royal Dublin triumph
 Flying high on Bull Island.........Winner Gavin Moynihan (The Island) after his victory in the 2015 Irish Amateur Open Championship at The Royal Dublin Golf Club today (10/05/2015). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Flying high on Bull Island.........Winner Gavin Moynihan (The Island) after his victory in the 2015 Irish Amateur Open Championship at The Royal Dublin Golf Club today (10/05/2015). Picture by Pat Cashman

He won by three shots in the end but it there was a world of emotion bookended between the 400-yard drive and a six-foot putt that topped and tailed Gavin Moynihan’s second Irish Amateur Open victory in the space of four years.

When he won at Royal Dublin as a 17-year old in 2012, the flame-haired Dubliner announced his arrival as a star while playoff defeat in 2013 was just another chapter in a year that saw him win Walker Cup honours for the first time. 

He didn’t make it to the North Bull Island last year as he was still in college at the University of Alabama having been signed up as a star. 

Winner Gavin Moynihan (The Island) driving at the 5th tee in final round. (Click to expand).  Picture by Pat Cashman

But having lost form and confidence there and opted to return home permanently at Christmas to regain his mojo, he admitted that his anxiety levels were climbing when he started the year poorly and then missed the cut in the Lytham Trophy at this year’s Walker Cup venue just eight days ago.

“Even a few weeks back, I just couldn’t wait to get back to Royal Dublin,” said Moynihan,  who defied winds gusting up to 40mph in his final round battle with his 17-year old club mate Kevin LeBlanc, carding a 74 to win by three strokes on four under par 284 from fellow senior international Cormac Sharvin (72) from Ardglass.

“The fact that I have played here four times, missed the cut my first year and won twice and lost in a playoff the other, I just felt it was the week that could kick start my year and it has.

“I can’t believe how happy I am. I was really down after the trip to Argentina and then missing the cut in the Lytham Trophy last week. 

“So to get a win and hopefully secure my place on the Walker Cup team again now is a huge burden off my shoulders."

The course record 65 he posted on Saturday to snatch a share of the 54-hole lead with fellow clubman LeBlanc and move four clear of the field on six under par, was clearly one of the keys to his win.

But Moynihan preferred to point to the 76 he shot in the worst of the Friday afternoon wind and rain, when he was seven over par through 10 holes but refused to give up.

LeBlanc, who was just two behind Moynihan standing on the 18th tee, four putted from 30 yards having come up just short of the green. 

He took six, carding a 78 to tied for third with Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson (71) on level par but it was merely academic  after he’d watched Moynihan cannily play left of the green in two and then skip a low spinning, 67-yard lob wedge to within six feet of the stick to set up what proved to be a closing par four.

With his performance coach Jude O’Reilly, a former tour caddie, helping him with his game, LeBlanc is clearly a star in the making.

“Kevin will win this one day, no bother to him,” a generous Moynihan said of his young rival. “He was only 17 the other day and he’ s playing ahead of his years. 

"Nothing fazes him and he could easily make the men’s team for the Home Internationals this year, I have no doubt.”

Kevin LeBlanc (The Island) playing his second shot to the 18th green in final round of the 2015 Irish Amateur Open Championship. Picture by Pat Cashman

LeBlanc was disappointed at the finish but he knows his day will come.

"If I had holed the putts, I would have had a much better chance but I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole from 10 feet and in, which he did a lot better than me," the tall 17-year old said. "I hit the ball as well as Gavin, if not better. So I was pleased with that. There are a lot of positive to take forward."

Reflecting on the ones that got away — a 12 footer at the 14th, a 40 footer that burned the edge at the 15th, the 25 footer at the 16th, the 20 footer that he left short in the jaws at the 17th — he added: "The greens weren’t great after four rounds of traffic. The putt on the 14th was a great chance and on the 16th I thought I’d holed it and 17 was another good chace. On 18, it was done at that stage. What do I take from the week? I take a lot of confidence from the week and know I can be up there with the best of them if I can just play my own game."

If LeBlanc is one for the future, Moynihan is clearly one of the men of the moment and his experience proved key in the end as he birdied the first and second to go one clear, edge two ahead through the turn and kept his rival at arms length as they battled home against the wind.

As for Sharvin, the 22-year old from Ardglass was pleased to birdie three of his last six holes for a 72 that ended up being good enough for solo second place on one under par, just a week after he finished tied second in the Lytham Trophy.

Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) driving at the 5th tee in final round. Picture by Pat Cashman

At Royal Lytham and St Annes he was denied the runner up spot outright when he finished bogey, triple bogey. But this time he walked away feeling good about his week and confident he's improved his Walker Cup prospects.

“Overall I’m pretty happy,” said Sharvin, who hit a 192-yard rescue club to 10 feet at the last and holed the putt for a 72 to set the target at one under par 287. “I played pretty nicely all week. 

"To come in here after an exam with no practice round and come second seems to be a bit of an omen because I did the same in the Lytham Trophy. Overall it’s done my Walker Cup chances no harm. 

“For Gavin to shoot four under for four rounds when it is paying tough is great golf so I can’t complain about coming second. I didn;t take my chances on the front nine and went out in two over.

“But to finish the way I did, hitting rescue to 10 feet after taking seven down he last in the Lytham last week, gives me a lot of confidence. Standing on that tee, you are thinking make par and come third. 

”It’s a hole you could take triple on again so to show the mental strength to make a birdie in the last after what happened last week, I am quite proud of myself.” 

Winner Gavin Moynihan (The Island) with Kevin LeBlanc and members of The Island after his victory in the 2015 Irish Amateur Open Championship at The Royal Dublin Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Irish Amateur Open, The Royal Dublin (Par 72)

FINAL - Hole by hole scoring

284 Gavin Moynihan (The Island) 69 76 65 74

287 Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) 72 71 72 72

288 Ewen Ferguson (Scotland) 76 70 71 71, Kevin LeBlanc (The Island) 71 71 68 78

289 Marco Iten (Switzerland) 72 76 71 70, Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) 72 74 72 71, Jonathan Yates (Naas) 72 71 71 75, Jeff Hopkins (The Royal Dublin) 70 76 74 69, Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) 70 76 71 72, Evan Griffith (Wales) 69 72 75 73

290 Jack McDonald (Scotland) 72 75 69 74, Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) 69 75 71 75

291 Greig Marchbank (Scotland) 72 77 72 70, Marco Penge (England) 71 73 73 74

292 Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 75 72 70 75, Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 74 76 73 69, Tom Gandy (Isle of Man) 71 72 72 77, Lukas Lipold (Austria) 70 73 73 76, Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) 69 77 70 76

293 James Allan (England) 74 72 73 74, Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 72 73 70 78, Gary Collins (Rosslare) 70 77 71 75, Jack Hume (Naas) 69 70 78 76

294 Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park) 74 74 73 73

295 Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 78 68 73 76, Gary Hurley (West Waterford) 71 76 72 76

296 Richard Bridges (Stackstown) 73 77 71 75, Tomas Bessa (Portugal) 72 72 76 76

297 Michele Cea (Italy) 78 76 68 75, Axel Boasson (Iceland) 77 70 75 75, Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin) 73 77 71 76, Christian Braeunig (Germany) 72 75 76 74, Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell) 71 74 76 76, Craig Ross (Scotland) 71 72 73 81

298 Nicholas Poppleton (England) 77 72 71 78, Damon Coulson (England) 75 72 75 76, Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) 74 72 76 76, Luke Trocado (South Africa) 69 79 73 77, Richard James (Wales) 69 74 71 84

299 Declan Loftus (Castlebar) 77 72 74 76, Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little.) 75 77 71 76

300 Jake Whelan (Newlands) 76 72 69 83

301 Alex Gleeson (Castle) 76 73 74 78, Conor O'Rourke (Naas) 73 75 74 79

302 Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo) 76 71 75 80, Tim Harry (Wales) 71 74 77 80

303 Matthew Jordan (England) 74 75 74 80

306 Eugene Smith (Ardee) 77 74 71 84

Michael Connaughton (President, Golfing Union of Ireland) presenting Gavin Moynihan (The Island) with the Irish Amateur Open Championship trophy after his victory. Also in the picture are Enda McDermott (2014 Captain, The Royal Dublin Golf Club) and Eugene Reilly (Captain, Island Golf Club). Picture by Pat Cashman

NON-QUALIFIERS

224 Marcel Zillekens (Germany) 74 76 74, Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 74 74 76, Markus Habeler (Austria) 72 82 70, John Hickey (Cork) 72 75 77, Ollie Roberts (Hong Kong) 71 80 73 

225 Nick MacAndrew (Scotland) 77 74 74, Connor Syme (Scotland) 71 81 73, Robin Dawson (Faithlegg) 70 85 70, Alexander Culverwell (Scotland) 69 76 80 

226 Murray Naysmith (Scotland) 82 72 72, James Fox (Portmarnock) 79 75 72, Gordon Stevenson (Scotland) 78 77 71, Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle) 78 77 71, Mathias Eggenberger (Switzerland) 77 74 75, Ben Best (Rathmore) 77 72 77, Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin) 76 70 80, Jarand Ekeland Arnoy (Norway) 75 77 74, Ryan Symington (Lisburn) 74 78 74, Marc Nolan (Delgany) 72 72 82, William Enefer (England) 70 83 73 

227 Seve Prins (Netherlands) 83 69 75, Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 76 80 71, Michael Sinclair (Knock) 74 79 74 

228 Anthony Blaney (Scotland) 75 80 73, Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint) 75 80 73, Kevin Reints (Netherlands) 74 76 78, Jamie Savage (Scotland) 73 82 73 

229 Colin Baird (Scotland) 77 76 76, Claudio Consul (Germany) 75 80 74 
230 Michael Hegemann (Germany) 78 79 73, Gary McDermott (Carton House) 76 82 72, Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 74 80 76 

231 Cedomir Ilic (Serbia) 80 77 74 

232 Paul Coughlan (Moate) 83 75 74, Jack Bush (Wales) 79 79 74, Eoin Leonard (Wentworth) 77 81 74, Stephen Healy (Carton House) 77 76 79, Simon Bryan (Delgany) 75 84 73, Jack Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 73 81 78, Kyle McCarron (North West) 72 86 74 

233 Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) 78 80 75, Edward Richardson (England) 76 81 76, Scott Gibson (Scotland) 73 80 80 

234 Ashley Mason (England) 82 74 78, James Smedley (England) 78 80 76, Gianmaria Rean Trinchero (Italy) 77 84 73, Ian O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) 76 83 75, Michael Hirmer (Germany) 73 88 73 

235 Sigot Lopez (Spain) 77 82 76, Declan O'Neill (Carton House) 77 80 78, Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) 72 84 79 

236 Shane McGlynn (Carton House) 81 82 73, Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 76 81 79, Andy Borg (Malta) 75 80 81, Michael Ludwig (Austria) 74 84 78

237 Adam Wilson (Wales) 75 81 81

239 Petr Dedek (Czech Republic) 81 79 79, Roy Connolly (Palmerstown Stud) 80 80 79, Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 79 82 78, Christopher MacLean (Scotland) 75 85 79 

242 Shaun O'Connor (Carton House) 75 85 82 

245 Casper Simberg (Finland) 85 80 80 

246 Mel Loetscher (Switzerland) 81 90 75, Jan Szmidt (Poland) 76 91 79 

249 Thomas Hackett (USA) 84 90 75 

WD/NR  John McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown) 82 78 NR, Colin Fairweather (Knock) 69 76 77 WD, John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) 70 82 71 WD, Vitor Lopes (Portugal) 72 84 WD, Johannes Lube (Germany) 79 89 WD, John Morris (Rosslare) 76 WD, Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 79 WD.

Michael Connaughton (President, Golfing Union of Ireland) presenting Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) with his runner up medal at the Irish Amateur Open Championship at The Royal Dublin Golf Club today (10/05/2015). Picture by Pat Cashman