Moynihan's money shot secures tour card
 Gavin Moynihan hits his approach to the 18th in round six of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan hits his approach to the 18th in round six of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan didn't want to watch.

After spending most of the previous 50 minutes checking his phone, he kept his head down as Sweden's Christofer Blomstrand stood over a 25 footer for birdie at the 18th.

If he holed it, Moynihan and all the players on 13-under par would be out of the top 25 and denied European Tour cards at Lumine Golf Club near Tarragona,

In the end, the Swede missed but won his card anyway, and so did Moynihan, who had to pull off one of the most pressure-packed shots of his life to birdie the last before facing that stomach-churning wait.

“The last 15 minutes were brutal," Moynihan confessed after his two-under 69 gave him a share of 25th on 13-under, leaving him among the 33 players to earn Category 17 membership for 2018.

"He had a 25 footer down the hill there and I honestly couldn’t watch him.

“It was a long wait. It felt like an eternity. But now I am very happy. 

“It wasn’t that I was nervous today, I was just stressed. People say you don’t really understand what it's like at Q-School until you’re there, but on that back nine, I knew exactly what they meant. 

“You just want to get in and get the 18 over and done with and now it is.”

While the megabucks Rolex Series has diminished the importance of a Q-School card for the lesser lights who don't qualify for those events— just three graduates kept theirs this year and only one (Eddie Pepperell) made it to Dubai — Moynihan is optimistic.

"My goal was the top 10 but top 25 gives me a few extra starts and with a few invitations to a couple of the bigger events on top of what I already have, I will hopefully have a decent season," he said.

"What tour I concentrate on will depend on his I play. If you are playing well on one tour, you will obviously stick with that so I will definitely play six or seven European Tour events before the Challenge Tour even starts."

He certainly has the game to win on the main tour and will play the Joburg Open and Mauritius, if he gets in, this side of Christmas.

With only the top 25 and ties winning cards after six gruelling rounds, he birdied the first from 20 feet, stiffed his approach to the second and rolled in a 20 footer for a two from the back fringe at the par-three fourth to get to 14-under par.

 Gavin Moynihan drives at the 12th. Picture © Brian Keogh

Gavin Moynihan drives at the 12th. Picture © Brian Keogh

He was cruising towards his card but the birdies then dried up and as the tension mounted, he bogeyed the 12th (pulling a five iron left of the green attempting a high draw) and pushed his three-rescue wide right when between clubs at the 15th ("I should have hit a low draw four-iron") to fall outside the top 25.

As a result, he needed at least one birdie but after an eight-footer failed to go at the par-five 16th and he came up short from 20 feet at the par-three 17th, he had to produce the goods at the 529-yard 18th just to give himself a chance.

Faced with a 219-yard approach from the left semi-rough, he hit a towering draw with a four-iron that carried the traps and finished 20 feet below the hole on the fringe from where he two-putted for his birdie to get back inside the top 25.

Blomstrand’s miss did the rest and Moynihan can now celebrate what’s been a remarkable year - all thanks to that four-iron on the 18th at the Lakes Course.

“To birdie the last there when I knew I needed it to have a chance, was the most pleasing shot of the week,” he said.

“From where I was 11 months ago, when I had lost my swing and then had to go to the Europro Tour Q-School in March to where I am now, I couldn’t really have asked for much more.

“I had a win on the Europro, a lot of top 10s and a few other chances this year. So to come here and get a decent card after having nothing a year ago, I can’t be selfish and complain about today. Overall, it has been a very, very positive year.

I think I will get four or five more events and to be honest after hitting it all over the place in the practice rounds at the start of the week, I am happy. 

"I had six solid rounds here — my worst was a 72. So I can’t fault anything. My long iron play was a bit off today but I had a few nice breaks too, just missing the bunker on 11 and coming up just short of the trap off the tee on 16. I am already in Joburg and top 25 gets me in the reserve list for Mauritius too so it's all good.

"After hitting it all over the place in the practice rounds at the start of the week, I am happy." 

Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee finished seven shots outside the qualifying places on six-under-par after a closing 70 but by making the cut here, he now has a strong Challenge Tour card for next year.

England’s Sam Horsfield closed with an eight-under 63 to top the leaderboard by eight strokes on 27-under par as 33 players won cards.

The lucky 33 included past winners Kristoffer Broberg, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Anders Hansen while youngsters Jazz Janewattananond, Connor Syme and Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson will join Moynihan as rookies in the Race to Dubai.

Scotland's Syme was particularly thrilled to finish 11th after playing Walker Cup with Paul McBride just two months ago.

“When you think about the fact I was playing Walker Cup two months ago, that is just mental!" Syme said after finishing on 17-under. 

“It’s been an amazing few weeks so I’m absolutely delighted to have the opportunity now to test myself against the best players in the world.”

European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, Lumine Golf Club (Lakes Course, Par 71; Hills Course, Par 72) Tarragona

Final - Detailed scores

Qualifiers

401 S Horsfield (Eng) 69 68 66 68 67 63; 

409 J Kruyswijk (RSA) 71 71 70 66 67 64; P Widegren (Swe) 69 72 68 69 66 65; A Pavan (Ita) 65 68 71 73 67 65; A Hansen (Den) 71 71 69 67 65 66; C Ford (Eng) 73 69 66 64 70 67; J Winther (Den) 67 67 72 71 64 68; 

410 K Broberg (Swe) 70 71 67 68 66 68; 

411 J Geary (Nzl) 72 71 72 67 64 65; M Foster (Eng) 67 72 68 71 66 67; C Syme (Sco) 72 73 63 67 67 69; 

412 P Angles (Esp) 73 70 69 68 65 67; G Fernandez - Castaño (Esp) 72 70 69 68 65 68; L Canter (Eng) 71 64 67 75 66 69; 

413 S Gros (Fra) 70 69 74 67 67 66; R McGowan (Eng) 72 71 68 70 65 67; N Geyger (Chi) 67 74 69 68 68 67; 

414 L Gagli (Ita) 71 73 66 72 67 65; S Heisele (Ger) 72 67 70 70 70 65; J Heath (Eng) 72 68 68 69 71 66; M Schwab (Aut) 71 69 67 71 69 67; H Sturehed (Swe) 67 71 71 70 67 68; J Thomson (Eng) 67 72 68 67 71 69; M Baldwin (Eng) 71 69 68 68 66 72; 

415 B Evans (Eng) 69 66 68 71 75 66; J Walters (RSA) 75 71 66 69 67 67; M Schneider (Ger) 68 74 71 68 67 67; C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 69 69 72 70 68 67; F Aguilar (Chi) 73 70 68 69 67 68; M Nixon (Eng) 70 71 70 69 66 69; Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 69 72 67 68 70 69; J Janewattananond (Tha) 74 71 65 65 71 69; C Blomstrand (Swe) 72 69 67 66 69 72; 

Non qualifiers

416 M Armitage (Eng) 71 71 74 68 66 66; Ó Serna (Mex) 68 72 67 73 69 67; C Braeunig (Ger) 70 70 67 71 70 68; 

417 M Iten (Sui) 74 70 67 71 69 66; C Lloyd (Eng) 68 71 71 72 68 67; A Knappe (Ger) 69 72 69 69 69 69; T Murray (Eng) 70 63 75 70 69 70; R Macintyre (Sco) 67 71 71 71 66 71;

418 E Johansen (Nor) 68 73 72 70 70 65; H Leon (Chi) 73 72 69 68 69 67; P Howard (Eng) 73 66 74 69 68 68; J Edfors (Swe) 70 72 70 67 69 70; T Lewis (Eng) 75 69 68 67 69 70; D Law (Sco) 68 73 70 68 69 70; J Quesne (Fra) 69 72 69 69 69 70; K Johannessen (Nor) 71 69 67 72 67 72; 

419 J Hansen (Den) 72 73 70 69 68 67; J Munro (Aus) 69 71 69 71 69 70; G Stal (Fra) 64 71 73 70 71 70; N Kimsey (Eng) 68 73 70 68 69 71; 

420 S Webster (Eng) 69 74 73 68 70 66; S Henry (Sco) 78 69 68 69 68 68; O Lindell (Fin) 73 71 66 70 68 72; A Michael (RSA) 73 71 66 74 63 73; 

421 S Tiley (Eng) 72 70 68 73 72 66; E Park (Kor) 72 72 66 73 70 68; S Manley (Wal) 69 68 70 73 70 71; M Millar (Aus) 74 67 69 68 72 71; 

422 K Samooja (Fin) 73 69 69 70 72 69; Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 72 73 70 67 70 70; P Mejow (Ger) 69 70 74 70 68 71; 

423 A Arnaus (Esp) 70 70 71 70 73 69; S Vincent (Zim) 72 72 69 70 67 73; 

424 M Lafeber (Ned) 68 73 73 68 72 70; 

426 K Koivu (am) (Fin) 70 70 72 72 72 70; S Sharma (Ind) 75 73 68 67 71 72; P Maddy (Eng) 77 68 70 67 72 72; S Khan (Eng) 72 71 73 68 69 73; 

427 J Huldahl (Den) 67 75 69 72 72 72; 

428 A Hall (Aus) 73 69 70 71 72 73; 

430 A Cañizares (Esp) 73 73 70 68 77 69