McGee up to second in Challenge Tour rankings; Shaw enjoys good week
 Ruaidhri McGee. Picture © Getty Images

Ruaidhri McGee. Picture © Getty Images

Ruaidhri McGee took another huge step towards winning his European Tour card when he finished tied third behind Scotland’s Jamie McLeary in the KPMG Trophy in Belgium.

The Rosapenna touring professional jumped seven places to second in the Road to Oman rankings which award European Tour cards to the top 15 at the end of the season after picking up €10,400 thanks sensational final round of 68 that featured six back nine birdies.

It was also a good week for Lurgan’s Gareth Shaw as he closed with a 70 to finish tied fifth on nine under and clinch a start in the Najeti Open Presented by Neuflize OBC at Aa Saint-Omer from next Thursday.

Joint overnight leader McLeary held off a series of final round charges, carding six birdies a 67 to win by a shot from Dutchman Taco Remkes (67) on 13 under with McGee’s final hole bogey dropping him into a share of third with Stiggy Hodgson on 10 under.

It was the 34-year old Scot’s first Challenge Tour title six years and it came after an exciting final day.

When the leaders went out, 30 players were within three shots of the lead, but McLeary soon accelerated ahead with three consecutive birdies from the second.

At one stage the Edinburgh man had a four stroke advantage, but it was down to one by the time he reached the 18th. Knowing a par would be good enough to win, he duly delivered.

“I’m as happy as Larry,” said McLeary. “I was actually more nervous at the start than at the finish. I hit a poor tee shot off the second and I got lucky. Normally when I’m nervous I don’t drive the ball well, and that happened today.

“I three-putted the 14th to put myself back into the pack a bit, but apart from that I played well.

“When you’re leading you want to get off to a good start. The worst thing is when you make a couple of early bogeys. So I was glad to start well.

“My short game was a lot better than it was yesterday, so that was where I made the score.

“I knew there were a lot of people close, and three shots can go in one hole if you make a mistake. I tried not to look at the leaderboards, and once I was three under through four I knew I’d given myself a bit of a cushion.”

McLeary lost his European Tour last year after finishing 152nd in The Race to Dubai, but now has his sights set on returning to the top tier.

“This gets the monkey off my back as I’ve earned a sizeable chunk – it takes the pressure off a bit,” he said.

“You don’t want to be going into the second half of the season chasing your tail. I’ll be able to go into the lucrative events at the end of the season able to relax a bit. I’ll go to the Rolex Trophy now, which is one of my favourite events, and the Grand Final and all the China events. I’m very happy.”

McGee, 24, started the final day tied for seventh, two off the lead held by McLeary and Frenchman Charles-Edoard Russo (74).

The Derry man turned in level but then six birdies on the back nine with bogeys at the 14th and 18th denying him the chance of a maiden win.

He’s still in a great position to win his card through the rankings with the top 15 earning promotion.

And it was also a good week for Shaw, who earned € 6,507 for his share of seventh to move up to 47th.

Richard Kilpatrick’s 68 gave him a share of 31st worth € 1,248 while Stephen Grant (€586) was pleased to close with a 68 for joint 50th.

David Rawluk (€304) shot 77 to end up 72nd on 10 over.

Final scores:

275 J McLeary (Sco) 71 67 70 67, 

276 T Remkes (Ned) 67 67 75 67, 

278 S Hodgson (Eng) 72 69 70 67, Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 69 70 71 68, 

279 G Porteous (Eng) 72 68 71 68, G Boyd (Eng) 67 69 75 68, Gareth Shaw (Nir) 68 73 68 70, 

280 T Tree (Eng) 72 72 67 69, B Hafthorsson (Isl) 71 74 69 66, F Calmels (Fra) 75 68 71 66, Z Scotland (Eng) 71 69 71 69, 

281 J Smith (Eng) 72 69 72 68, B Stow (Eng) 74 69 71 67, S Jeppesen (Swe) 71 74 69 67, J Glennemo (Swe) 67 78 73 63, B Hemstock (Eng) 72 68 73 68, T Gornik (Slo) 72 67 72 70, O Bekker (RSA) 70 71 69 71, J Heath (Eng) 71 66 76 68, 

282 W Besseling (Ned) 71 74 70 67, C Russo (Fra) 71 64 73 74, A Hartø (Den) 74 67 71 70, D Frittelli (RSA) 71 69 72 70, R Davies (Wal) 73 70 69 70, 

283 S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp) 71 68 70 74, P Whiteford (Sco) 68 72 75 68, S Heisele (Ger) 69 69 73 72, M Lafeber (Ned) 71 67 73 72, T Linard (Fra) 74 70 71 68, L Corfield (Eng) 69 69 73 72, 

284 Richard Kilpatrick (Nir) 70 73 73 68, J Rask (Swe) 71 70 71 72, M Röhrig (Ger) 68 74 73 69, 

285 N Kimsey (Eng) 71 70 73 71, P Howard (Eng) 71 69 70 75, 

286 A Björk (Swe) 71 67 71 77, E Bertheussen (Nor) 68 73 75 70, E Dubois (Fra) 67 73 77 69, 

287 T Pieters (Bel) 76 69 71 71, M Trappel (Aut) 71 67 76 73, D Huizing (Ned) 75 69 71 72, J Winther (Den) 65 69 78 75, G Drakeford (Aus) 70 67 79 71, D Ulrich (Sui) 72 70 73 72, J Stalter (Fra) 79 64 72 72, 

288 M Rominger (Sui) 75 67 74 72, J Harrison (Eng) 72 71 73 72, A Eckhardt (Fin) 71 73 71 73, S Einhaus (Ger) 69 74 71 74, 

289 J Billing (Swe) 70 73 75 71, C Aguilar (Esp) 76 69 75 69, A Domingo (Esp) 67 76 73 73, J Lima (Por) 70 70 72 77, Stephen Grant (Irl) 74 71 75 69, P Dwyer (Eng) 70 70 77 72, C Hanson (Eng) 76 69 71 73, A Snobeck (Fra) 70 69 79 71, J Cafourek (Cze) 72 68 73 76, A Romano (Ita) 70 70 75 74, 

290 P Tarver-Jones (Eng) 72 73 73 72, J Wilson (Aus) 71 73 72 74, D Kemmer (USA) 71 71 73 75, J Robinson (Eng) 73 69 73 75, 

291 A Gee (Eng) 73 69 78 71, C Brazillier (Fra) 73 71 77 70, J Colegate (Eng) 70 75 73 73, P Doherty (Sco) 69 75 76 71, 

292 Z Lombard (RSA) 68 77 69 78, F Laporta (Ita) 75 70 75 72, 

293 J Watts (Eng) 69 75 77 72, 

295 J Maw (Eng) 68 77 77 73, 

298 David Rawluk (Irl) 75 70 76 77