Gavin Moynihan might have missed out on automatic promotion to the European Tour in Oman, but he's proud of his stellar Challenge Tour season and vowed to go for his full card with all guns blazing in next week's Q-School Final Stage in Spain.
The Mount Juliet touring professional closed with a 69 to finish tied 20th in the season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final at Al Mouj Golf on three-under-par.
And while he earned €4,291, ending up 19th in the Road to Oman standings with €81,123 — €12,045 outside the top 15 who gained automatic promotion — he has a Category 18 European Tour status for 2018 and can improve on that next week by grabbing a full card via the Q-School in Spain.
"My driving and putting weren't good enough this week," Moynihan said. "But my iron play and wedges were pretty good.
"All in all it's been a very positive year on the course out here. After starting the year with no category, I can be proud."
Moynihan showed he was ready for action when he won early on the PGA Europro Tour and then reached the final of May's Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 three weeks later and never looked back.
It was the first of six top-15 Challenge Tour finishes for the 23-year-old, who showed his talent on the big stage when he finished tied for 14th on an invitation in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart.
He has credited coached Shane O'Grady for helping him become far more consistent and with his confidence sky high, he will be on a shot to nothing when he tees it up in the final stage of Q-School at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona next weekend.
Writing more extensively on Twitter, he added: "Not the week I was hoping for but great year on Challenge tour. Finished 19th on the rankings. Starting the year with no category on any tour is big move in the right direction. Still some parts to my game that need improving but have had an enjoyable year on the course. Guaranteed about 10-12 events on Main Tour next year.
"Huge thanks goes to my management group ISM for there great support. Also to my sponsors, can't thank them enough. Titleist/FJ , O'Callaghan hotels, Arena Group, Team Ireland Golf and Mount Juliet Estate. Thanks to everyone for there support throughout the year Q school next week to see if we can get the full card."
As for the Grand Final, Clément Sordet claimed a memorable second victory of the season as Scott Fernandez and Bradley Neil dramatically clinched European Tour cards on the final day of the season.
The top 15 in the season-long Road to Oman Rankings will play in the Race to Dubai next year and there was much movement throughout the fourth round with Sebastian Heisele and Robin Sciot-Siegrist ultimately the two to drop out of the European Tour places in the final week of the season.
Estanislao Goya and Oliver Lindell were two others who were inside the top 15 in yesterday’s projected rankings but endured difficult days as the wind picked up off the Sea of Oman, ultimately sharing 11th place – not enough to hold those European Tour positions.
Fernandez and Neil both turned in 33 to climb the leaderboard but started to falter on the back nine, each bogeying the 17th before making impressive pars on the last hole in the knowledge that a dropped shot would be costly.
They took the 14th and 15th cards for next season, Neil finishing 4,436 points ahead of Heisele for that final position, and they will both now embark on rookie seasons on the European Tour.
By contrast, Sordet’s progress to a fourth Challenge Tour title seemed relatively serene.
The Frenchman stretched his overnight lead to four shots with two early birdies and, with the charges of Erik van Rooyen and Goya falling away, he walked down the 18th with a two-shot lead.
A comfortable par saw him sign for a two under par round of 70 and a 15 under par total, taking the 25-year-old to second place in the Rankings, with Marcus Kinhult the runner-up and Fernandez and van Rooyen sharing third place on 12 under par.
The round of the day came from Jens Dantorp, whose blemish-free 66 secured the Swede his European Tour card in a share of fifth place and concluded a remarkable fortnight following his victory in last week’s Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge.
Meanwhile, Tapio Pulkkanen was crowned Challenge Tour Number One, the first Finn to achieve this honour, with the 2017 graduates ultimately finishing like this:
“It feels great. I have been playing really good lately and to finish the season with the win is amazing.
“I played pretty good today. It was really tough not to think about the score and what the other guys were doing around me but I focused on doing my own job and I am really, really happy.
“It was definitely the best win of my career and it is the highlight of my career so far. To finish in the top 15 was my main goal at the start of the year and to finish the season second in the Rankings feels great.
“I am going to take two weeks off and enjoy some time at home then I will be ready for next season.”
“After I bogeyed 17, I didn’t really know what to expect coming up the last or where I was standing. I didn’t have a clue what was going on and I was just delighted when that last putt dropped.
“I was actually pretty excited today. After going out in three under, it was actually in my hands, I wasn’t having to shoot an amazing back nine and I was playing well.
“It was really tough to focus on my game and I had to be really strong mentally to focus on what I had to do. It’s been a long, long season and it was horrible to come into the week in 16th place and unable to relax, but it was worth it now.”
“I am thrilled as it is a dream come true. I am really excited for what comes next.
“The job is done and it is a great finish to a great year. You know it is going to be a long day from the start, you know there are going to be a lot of emotions, and I started off a little nervous.
“I held my nerve throughout the day – especially on the 17th where I made the best bogey of my career. I hit my second shot into the high rough and after getting out from there I still had 30 yards to the green – but I put my approach to eight foot and holed out.
“That was crucial and I used that momentum to finish well on the 18th. I was left with a tap in for par which was probably the easiest way to make a Tour card in history.
“I have been fighting off a virus throughout the week but I have been able to fight through that and everything else to get the job done.”
“It’s nice to be in the history books. Some great names have won the Challenge Tour Rankings in the past and it’s a great pleasure to now be part of that team.
“After I won in Kazakhstan, winning the Rankings became my goal. I played really well in China to put myself in a good position to do that but it was really important for me to finish it off here.
“I’ve been here for more or less four years and it’s been up and down for me – obviously it’s been very up this season! I hope I can continue this next year but it’s been a good training ground and I have improved so much from playing on the Challenge Tour.”
NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, Al Mouj Golf (Par 72)
273 C Sordet (Fra) 68 67 68 70,
275 M Kinhult (Swe) 68 68 71 68,
276 S Fernandez (Esp) 69 69 68 70, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 70 71 66 69,
278 T Linard (Fra) 68 67 71 72, J Dantorp (Swe) 70 71 71 66,
279 N Cullen (Aus) 67 70 71 71, P Oriol (Esp) 69 70 71 69,
280 D Huizing (Ned) 70 70 71 69, B Neil (Sco) 69 72 70 69,
281 O Lindell (Fin) 69 65 70 77, A Meronk (Pol) 67 69 75 70, E Goya (Arg) 67 66 72 76,
282 A Rai (Eng) 68 71 71 72, M Schwab (Aut) 71 69 74 68,
283 S Heisele (Ger) 70 68 73 72, J Heath (Eng) 68 71 72 72, R Evans (Eng) 69 72 71 71,
284 L Gagli (Ita) 70 72 70 72,
285 J Guerrier (Fra) 71 72 69 73, G Porteous (Eng) 71 70 69 75, O Farr (Wal) 68 71 76 70, R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 72 72 72 69, T Murray (Eng) 70 76 69 70, J Arnoy (Nor) 71 70 71 73, C Mivis (Bel) 70 73 67 75, O Lengden (Swe) 67 72 75 71, Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 70 73 73 69, A Saddier (Fra) 70 76 69 70,
287 M Tullo (Chi) 70 71 69 77, R McEvoy (Eng) 71 75 69 72, V Perez (Fra) 77 73 70 67,
288 C Koepka (USA) 75 72 71 70,
289 J Girrbach (Sui) 75 72 72 70,
290 T Pulkkanen (Fin) 71 83 69 67, N Von Dellingshausen (Ger) 71 77 73 69,
291 B Hafthorsson (Isl) 76 73 71 71,
293 J Sjöholm (Swe) 72 71 79 71, S Brown (Eng) 75 73 73 72,
295 M Ford (Eng) 79 71 71 74,
296 G Forrest (Sco) 70 72 78 76,
297 P Howard (Eng) 77 73 76 71, C Ford (Eng) 73 73 74 77,
300 M Madsen (Den) 76 76 75 73,
** M Lundberg (Swe) 76 RT 0 0