Paul Dunne got a taste of the card scramble that may lies ahead this season after he finished tied 16th in the D+D REAL Czech Masters and still slipped backwards the Race to Dubai standings.
The Greystones rookie is now 122nd in the race to finish in the all important top 110 money winners who retain full playing rights for the 2017.
Six birdies in a closing 69 catapulted Dunne 16 places up the scoreboard to six under par but while the cheque for €13,500 takes his European Tour total this season to 154,456 points (euro), the 23-year old is €16,961 adrift of 110th ranked David Horsey.
Dunne’s fall in this week’s standings comes because so many players scrambling to retain their cards were in action in Prague and did well.
American Paul Peterson claimed a dramatic maiden European Tour victory, overcoming the defending champion Thomas Pieters in an enthralling final round duel to win €166,660 and move from nowhere to 99th in the standings.
It all came down to the 18th green at Albatross Golf Resort after Peterson, two shots back at the beginning of the day, made an almighty charge while Pieters had a frustrating afternoon on the greens, missing several birdie opportunities by agonising margins.
The closely-fought battle was turned on its head when the left-hander from Scottdale, Arizona edged into the lead for the first time thanks to a birdie at the 16th.
The Belgian threw down the gauntlet at the last though, as his approach fell to within three feet for an easy birdie while his playing partner had a much tougher task from 17 feet. But much to the delight of the crowds, Peterson sank his birdie putt for a five under 67, a 15 under total and a one-shot victory.
David Howell was tied third on 11 under and moved up to 105th in the standings thanks to his cheque for €56,300 whiel Ryan Evan is now 130th.
Gary Boyd and Graeme Storm, who tied for seventh, also overtook Dunne by earning €24,350 to move to 115th and 117th while Justin Walters (now 90th) and Marc Warren (119th), tied for 11th.
Dunne is in the Made in Denmark and the KLM Open over the next fortnight and should also made the field for the Italian Open in Milan.
“It’s a dream come true, honestly. To be where I was on the Race to Dubai and knowing that I had a six week stretch, to sow things up and get my card for next year, it’s an unbelievable feeling.
“I’m going to remember that putt on 18 for the rest of my life. We had the perfect club in on 16 and it was so funny because I didn’t even feel my swing out there. Once it came to the top, all of a sudden I was at the finish of my swing. I looked up and I was flagging everything, it was cool.
“Hats off to my sports psychologist Oscar Coetzee, who was on the bag this week. He kept me right in the mode that I needed to be in. We stuck to our process and we did a good job.
“There are so many times where I feel like I’ve been close but things got out of order – order and consistency under pressure is the name of the game and we were able to do it and I couldn’t be happier.
“This is definitely life-changing. I’ve got a place to play for a while and hopefully I can keep on a roll on the European Tour, be one of the guys at the top of the Race to Dubai and play those big events.”
“It was too many missed putts. I did not make any today. I played good and I stayed patient and I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole.
“I’ve hit it well all week but I hit a couple of bad putts and then a couple that just didn’t want to go in. It just wasn’t my day.
“At 16 and 17 I needed to get up and down to give myself a chance, then coming down 18 I needed to hit a good shot and I did. But fair play to Paul, he made a wonderful putt to win and that’s how it goes.
“Second is not fun but I gave it my all. It happened to be my year last year and this year was Paul’s year. Hopefully I can go one better next week.”
“That’s definitely my best performance on the European Tour. At the beginning of the week I came with a game plan and I’m playing well. I just had to take my time, see the shot and hit as many fairways and greens as possible.
“I think I did that very well today, I played some beautiful golf. I could have holed a few more putts but I’ll take a bogey-free round. This is a massive boost for me. The confidence is there and this is going to give me more going into the next few tournaments.”
“I’m delighted with the performance really. Going with out with a slim chance today I figured I needed a 64 today and I had a 68, four back, but it was a decent effort and it was nice to get into the mix today and get the thrill of being in the hunt again – the nerves and adrenaline. It was nice to finish strong and give myself a birdie chance at the last.”
“I felt pretty cool out there, I really wanted some nice weather but I think the bad weather played into my hands – I feel like I’ve been hitting it good tee to green all week. I got off to a good start and then pushed on.
"It's very exciting now. We can look forward to it (The Ryder Cup) and get my game in shape. I've probably been in the team for the longest period of time. It started two weeks before I won at the British Masters and I jumped into the team and I've managed to stay there since then. It's been absolutely phenomenal and I'm just delighted to be in the team.
"It's a great opportunity, I've got my first one coming up and hopefully I can just keep pushing on my game and getting better.”
273 P Peterson (USA) 72 70 64 67,
274 T Pieters (Bel) 67 67 70 70,
277 D Howell (Eng) 70 68 71 68, R Evans (Eng) 66 73 70 68,
278 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 69 71 69,
279 D Lipsky (USA) 71 70 68 70,
280 G Storm (Eng) 68 72 68 72, G Boyd (Eng) 72 73 66 69, R Rock (Eng) 72 70 65 73, R Karlsson (Swe) 68 70 71 71,
281 M Foster (Eng) 72 70 69 70, J Walters (RSA) 72 71 69 69, M Warren (Sco) 71 68 72 70, J Hansen (Den) 77 68 67 69, S Brown (Eng) 69 69 73 70,
282 O Stark (Swe) 71 69 71 71, Paul Dunne (Irl) 72 71 70 69, T Fleetwood (Eng) 70 68 74 70,