Hurley and McGee denied in Italy
 Gary King

Gary King

Challenge Tour — Ruaidhri McGee’s final round 64 was too little too late but it was a slow start that scuppered Gary Hurley’s title chances in the Montecchia Open by Lyoness.

Hurley was just a shot behind eventual winner Gary King with a round to go but he went out in three over par 38 and while he finished with four successive birdies for a 70, the West Waterford man had to be content with a share of fourth with a career-best €12,500.

The cheque catapulted Hurley to 18th in the Road to Oman standings where the top 15 at the end of the season earn automatic promotion to the European Tour.

Having started at the 10th, Rosapenna’s McGee covered the back nine in six under 30 as he birdied the 10th and then made another five birdies in a row from the 12th before birdies at the second and third and a bogey at the seventh gave him a seven under 64 and the clubhouse lead on 14 under.

In the end, however, McGee ended up tied for seventh and three strokes behind winner King, who got up and down from sand for birdie on the 18th, holing from 15 feet for a 69 and his maiden win on 17 under par.

As McGee earned €7,000 to leap to 26th in the Road to Oman, 25-year old King denied Germany’s Moritz Lampert and Frenchman Matthieu Pavon the chance of a play-off after they had set the clubhouse target at 16 under par.

Only a year ago, King – who birdied three of his final five holes – was winning on the EuroPro Tour and he was delighted by how quickly he has achieved success this season.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s funny because we just noticed today that it was a year ago today that I won at Celtic Manor on the EuroPro and I finished with four birdies on the back nine and sunk a few winning putts coming in, so to do it again is an unbelievable feeling, I can’t describe it.

“I was pretty calm on the 18th, I pride myself on being calm in situations like that, but with the troubles I’ve had out of the bunkers over the last year, all the hours I put in practising has paid off right there and to hole that putt was incredible.

“I’ll be celebrating on a flight home – I may have to have a bit of champagne on the plane, but it will be nice to get home and see everyone and celebrate with them.”

Perhaps inevitably, in a week where rain reduced the tournament to 54 holes, the threat of thunderstorms resulted in an hour delay midway through the afternoon, though this actually worked in King’s favour.

Having dropped two shots before the turn, coming off the course allowed him to refocus, and he duly made four birdies coming home to seal a one shot victory with a closing round of 69.

“The rain delay really helped,” he said. “I was struggling out there and wasn’t feeling very good with my game and the putts weren’t dropping, so it came at a really good time for me – I geed myself up a bit and made some great birdies coming in.

”The next goal is to move on and try to win the next event. I’ll take a bit of time off now, I’m going away with my girlfriend next week, and then get back to it in Switzerland.

“The aim is top 15 and, with this being the biggest prize fund we’ve had yet, it’s a big step in the right direction in the Rankings and now I’ve just got to push on and keep getting better.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Pavon had shot the best round of the day, his eight under par 63 continuing the Frenchman’s red-hot run of form that has now earned him finishes of fourth, second and second in his last three events.

Lampert birdied four of his final five holes to join him as the clubhouse leader before King’s final flourish was enough for a 17 under par total, and a well-deserved win.

Alexander Bjӧrk, Hurley and Juryman van der Vaart finished in a tie for fourth place on 15 under par with McGee on 14 under and Kevin Phelan tied 24th on nine under after a 68 that earned him €2,175.

Final scores after round  3:

Detailed scores

196 G King (Eng) 64 63 69, 

197 M Lampert (Ger) 68 64 65, M Pavon (Fra) 65 69 63,  

198 A Björk (Swe) 62 69 67, J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 63 66 69, Gary Hurley (Irl) 63 65 70, 

199 A Pavan (Ita) 64 66 69, J Makitalo  (Fin) 65 65 69, Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 66 69 64

200 J Lando Casanova  (Fra) 65 69 66, P Oriol (Esp) 67 67 66, P Angles  (Esp) 67 64 69, S Fernandez  (Esp) 65 68 67, 

201 J Hahn (USA) 65 65 71,  

202 J Stalter (Fra) 71 65 66, C Arendell (USA) 69 66 67,  

203 W Besseling  (Ned) 67 67 69, J Dantorp (Swe) 66 66 71, M Crespi  (Ita) 68 67 68, O Farr (Wal) 66 71 66, R Langasque  (Fra) 69 67 67, B Stow (Eng) 69 64 70, M Nixon (Eng) 66 67 70, 

204 C Sordet  (Fra) 71 65 68, A Hortal  (Esp) 67 67 70, S Heisele (Ger) 70 65 69, C Costilla (Arg) 68 67 69, F Fritsch  (Ger) 66 69 69, D Stewart (Sco) 66 67 71, J Smith (Eng) 69 69 66, Kevin Phelan (Irl) 66 70 68, G Migliozzi (am) (Ita) 66 69 69, 

205 M Søgaard  (Den) 67 68 70, D Foos (Ger) 70 68 67, M Lundberg (Swe) 67 70 68, N Cullen (Aus) 67 67 71, R Santos  (Por) 69 69 67, A Rai (Eng) 66 68 71, 

206 M Armitage (Eng) 69 67 70, A Saddier (Fra) 66 67 73, T Tree (Eng) 68 70 68, R Saxton (Ned) 69 65 72, C Mivis  (Bel) 65 67 74, C Del Moral (Esp) 70 68 68, M Tullo (Chi) 70 64 72, P Shields (Sco) 69 66 71, 

207 S Hutsby  (Eng) 70 67 70, O Stark (Swe) 70 68 69, J Barnes (Eng) 69 69 69, S Wolters (Ger) 70 68 69, F Maccario (Ita) 68 66 73, N Quintarelli (Ita) 67 70 70, M Wiegele  (Aut) 68 67 72, 

208 A Velasco (Esp) 68 70 70, B Rusch (Sui) 66 71 71, R Kellett (Sco) 65 68 75, A Tadini (Ita) 70 67 71, A Hartø  (Den) 70 68 70, N Geyger (Chi) 72 65 71, M Cea (am) (Ita) 68 70 70, 

209 A Ahokas (Fin) 65 69 75, J Lima  (Por) 68 69 72, E Di Nitto  (Ita) 71 67 71, M Delpodio  (Ita) 68 70 71, E Ferguson (am) (Sco) 69 66 74, 211 V Riu  (Fra) 69 69 73, D Løkke (Den) 70 68 73,  

212 M Ortolani  (Ita) 69 69 74, S Jeppesen  (Swe) 69 69 74,  

213 S Connor (Eng) 69 68 76, D Bransdon (Aus) 69 68 76,  

215 G Forrest (am) (Sco) 70 67 78,  

RT S Walker (Eng) 66 71 RT