Paul Dunne's battle to hold on to the tour card he so brilliantly won last year is proving to be one of the most fascinating storylines of the year.
While it's no fun for the 23-year old from Greystones, he's been thrown in at the deep end when it comes to pressure — leading The Open into the final round last year and dealing superbly with that and Q-School
On Sunday in the third and final round of the weather-reduced Porsche European Open, he suffered a small reverse when he failed to take advantage of a chance to secure his playing rights ahead of time, carding a two over 73 that saw him slip 37 places down the leaderboard from tied 12th to 49th on six under par.
And while he was 107th in the money list starting the week and made the cut, a cheque for €8,000 didn't stop him falling three places to 110th in the Race to Dubai.
Dunne's goal is to finish as high as he can in the Race to Dubai standings but he must be inside the top 110 to retain his full playing rights.
That's now a major challenge for Michael Hoey, who missed his 19th cut of the season in Bavaria and is now 185th in the Race to Dubai.
Keeping his card is not a concern for Frenchman Alexander Levy, who became the youngest Frenchman in history to claim three European Tour titles, after overcoming England’s Ross Fisher on the second hole of a play-off at the Porsche European Open.
After both players had parred the 18th hole first time around, Levy clinched victory with a 30 foot putt at the second time of asking to end a weather-affected week at Golf Resort Bad Griesbach in dramatic fashion.
It was Levy’s first play-off victory and his first title since the 2014 Portugal Masters, which was reduced to 36 holes due to torrential rain.
Thick morning fog on each of the first three days in Bavaria had forced officials to cut the tournament to 54 holes, but there were no such problems on a sunny final day.
Levy had held a four-stroke advantage heading into the third and final round, but Fisher closed the gap after the Frenchman stuttered on the front nine. He appeared to have bounced back in perfect fashion, however, courtesy of four birdies in six holes from the tenth, but two bogeys in his final three holes opened the door to his playing partner.
Fisher had made a superb charge, carding seven birdies in a flawless performance to finish the week with just one bogey and a 19 under total. But the former Ryder Cup player was ultimately unable to add to his haul of five European Tour titles after losing a play-off for the fifth time in his career.
Third place was shared by Michael Jonzon and Robert Karlsson after respective rounds of 68 and 65 moved the Swedish duo to 16 under par.
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger finished fifth on 15 under par whilst Martin Kaymer made sure he carried some momentum into next week’s Ryder Cup as he signed for a final round 68 to finish on 14 under, five shots back in outright sixth place.
“It’s unbelievable. I saw the line of the putt and I told my caddie that I thought I was going to make it. It’s difficult to compare this victory with others, but I definitely feel very relieved because it looked like I had lost my chance. It’s so good to have this winning feeling again after two years, it’s very nice.
“I holed a nice putt for bogey to make the play-off. It was a tough moment, I didn’t hit a good second shot but I think it was my only bad shot on the last nine holes, so I just kept my mind focused on making the bogey to get into the play-off.
“I came close last week in Italy, but didn’t play well on Sunday. So this week, it feels great to have this trophy in my hands. It was tough to try to hold onto a four-shot lead. I didn’t play well on the front nine. I was thinking about the score and not on my own game. But I stayed patient and I started to play really well on the back nine, and in the end it worked out well.”
Ross Fisher: “It was always going to be tough today, but Alex gave us a bit of a chance with his start and I played almost flawless golf on the front nine. I had three lip-outs so it’s a story of what might have been, but I hit great putts so there are no regrets. It wasn’t meant to be and today wasn’t my day, but hats off to Alex because he holed a great putt on the last and has played very well this week.”
“It was a long week for me, especially after last week, but it’s always good to play in my home country.
“It was a good golf course and in amazing shape given the weather. I was very impressed by the greens, they probably are at a similar speed to next week so it was really good preparation for me.
“I’ve had a lot of top tens over the last few months, without really having a chance to win on Sunday afternoon. But I’m getting really close, and I’m really happy with the way I played.
“If the Americans put themselves as favourites, fair enough. They are playing on home soil, and at least on paper I think they are the favourites. But it can always turn out different ways at the Ryder Cup, we all know that. That is why the Ryder Cup is so exciting.
“That’s the beauty of match play, so if they really think that they are the favourites, then I think that’s a good position for Europe to be in.”
194 A Levy (Fra) 62 63 69, R Fisher (Eng) 65 65 64,
197 R Karlsson (Swe) 69 63 65, M Jonzon (Swe) 66 63 68,
198 B Wiesberger (Aut) 63 68 67,
199 M Kaymer (Ger) 67 64 68,
200 R Bland (Eng) 67 67 66, G Havret (Fra) 68 67 65, F Fritsch (Ger) 67 64 69, E De La Riva (Esp) 68 66 66, M Southgate (Eng) 66 67 67, J Hugo (RSA) 66 66 68,
201 B Dredge (Wal) 68 64 69, P Peterson (USA) 68 66 67, R Green (Aus) 67 68 66, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 67 70 64, T Fleetwood (Eng) 70 65 66, M Carlsson (Swe) 67 68 66, N Colsaerts (Bel) 69 66 66,
202 J Scrivener (Aus) 64 71 67, R Paratore (Ita) 65 71 66, T Jaidee (Tha) 69 66 67, F Zanotti (Par) 69 66 67,
203 R McEvoy (Eng) 68 68 67, A Lahiri (Ind) 68 68 67, C Lee (Sco) 69 67 67, D Lipsky (USA) 68 66 69,
204 M Korhonen (Fin) 70 66 68, S Lee (Kor) 66 67 71, D Howell (Eng) 69 68 67, R Dinwiddie (Eng) 68 68 68, P Lawrie (Sco) 70 68 66, M Schneider (Ger) 67 69 68, O Fisher (Eng) 66 68 70, E Molinari (Ita) 68 68 68,
205 R Jacquelin (Fra) 67 68 70, S Webster (Eng) 66 69 70, L List (USA) 68 68 69,
206 M Lundberg (Swe) 66 69 71, S Manley (Wal) 69 68 69, D Im (USA) 66 72 68, N Ravano (Ita) 67 68 71, T Linard (Fra) 70 68 68, R Sterne (RSA) 69 68 69, L Bjerregaard (Den) 66 71 69, F Laporta (Ita) 67 68 71, N Fasth (Swe) 70 66 70, D Drysdale (Sco) 70 67 69,
207 T Lewis (Eng) 67 68 72, C Paisley (Eng) 71 66 70, D Horsey (Eng) 69 69 69, D Brooks (Eng) 68 70 69, L Nemecz (Aut) 69 68 70, P Dunne (Irl) 66 68 73, J Van Zyl (RSA) 69 67 71, P Meesawat (Tha) 67 71 69,
208 D Frittelli (RSA) 70 68 70, R Gouveia (Por) 70 67 71, J Walters (RSA) 66 69 73, R Kakko (Fin) 68 69 71, T Pieters (Bel) 71 67 70, M Rottluff (Ger) 67 69 72,
209 T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 70 67 72, J Lagergren (Swe) 67 69 73, B Ritthammer (Ger) 70 67 72, J McLeary (Sco) 68 70 71,
211 M Siem (Ger) 69 69 73, P Oriol (Esp) 70 68 73, R Evans (Eng) 68 70 73,