McGovern wins Q-School by six; dedicates victory to inspirational uncle
LAGOA, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 02:  Brendan McGovern of Ireland poses with the winner's salver after the final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals on February 2, 2017 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images

LAGOA, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 02:  Brendan McGovern of Ireland poses with the winner's salver after the final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals on February 2, 2017 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images

Ireland’s Brendan McGovern dedicated his wire-to-wire European Senior Tour Qualifying School Final Stage victory to his late uncle Caillin after finishing top of the class on 11 under par.

The 51-year-old Headfort Golf Club professional successfully made his way through Q-School for the second consecutive year, carding rounds of 66, 66, 73 and 68 to win by an impressive six-stroke margin.

“It was a different Brendan McGovern out there today,” McGovern told the European Senior Tour. “Last year, after finishing Q-School, nobody had told me that my uncle had passed away while I had been practising."

A Greystones Golf Club stalwart, Caillin McGovern was the younger brother of McGovern's father and the one who introduced him to the game.

“He was buried a year ago today and I have to dedicate this to him," McGovern said of his uncle, who passed away on January 30 last year. "He was my 15th club. He was the one who got me into golf, and that kept me going today.

“I was very solid all week and even after my third round I was very comfortable. Today, I missed one green and hit one bogey.”

McGovern finished six strokes clear of Clark Dennis, Gary Rusnak and Peter Wilson who shared second place on five under par, securing their places on the 2017 European Senior Tour.

A play-off determined the final card as Frenchman Jean Pierre Sallat beat Jeff Hall and David Shacklady with a birdie on the first extra hole.

Speaking after the play-off, Sallat said: “It was terrible out there, it was very difficult. The format was tough but I hit a good putt in the play-off.

“It’s fantastic and my card is now in my pocket.” Rusnak successfully navigated Qualifying School for a second time after previously securing his card for the Senior Tour in 2014.

“That was tough, I don’t want to have to do this again,” the American said. “I finished well, like I did three years ago. I made a big birdie on 17 and it gave me a little leeway for 18, but I was still nervous.

“I never thought I had it. I was three under and not inside the five on the 15th. Then I hit a good shot on the par three and birdied 17.

“I really enjoyed my first two years in 2014 and 2015. Last year was rough because I didn’t get to play much. But now I’ll get to go to some new places and it’ll be a fun year.”

Dennis and Wilson will make their Senior Tour debuts when the season begins at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq in March.

Wilson will have more reason to celebrate as he turns 50 less than two weeks before his first tournament.

“I’m ecstatic,” the Englishman said. “It’s been a brilliant week, I’m over the moon. It’s not easy in those conditions and then the pressure was really on in the last round.

“I knew after yesterday that I could make a charge if a couple of putts went in.

“I’ve entered Sharjah already and I’m looking forward to putting my game up against the best on the Senior Tour.”

Dennis carded the lowest round of the tournament, a seven under par 64, during Thursday’s third round, giving him an opportunity to secure his card for the 2017 season.

“Yesterday was one of the best rounds I’ve played in quite a few years,” he said. “Brendan played some fantastic golf. It’s great for him to have won, but the goal for all of us was top five.

“I’m going into uncharted territory now on the Senior Tour. They are really making an effort to improve this Tour and add a few more tournaments to the schedule, so this year should be enjoyable.”

Final scores

273 Brendan McGovern (Irl) 66 66 73 68, 

279 G Rusnak (USA) 68 71 70 70, C Dennis (USA) 70 72 64 73, P Wilson (Eng) 66 75 69 69, 

281 D Shacklady (Eng) 70 70 71 70, J Sallat (Fra) 72 68 69 72, J Hall (Eng) 70 72 69 70, 

282 P Streeter (Eng) 72 71 70 69, M Wharton (Eng) 71 70 71 70, 

283 S McNally (Eng) 72 69 74 68, M Davis (Eng) 71 74 65 73, J Steenkamer (Ned) 70 75 71 67, J Carriles (Esp) 73 70 65 75, 

284 B Conser (USA) 71 67 69 77, 

285 J Bevan (Eng) 69 75 72 69, 

286 J Carter (USA) 71 71 70 74, 

287 A Fernandez (Chi) 72 72 72 71, G Wall (Aus) 73 73 71 70, T Spence (Eng) 71 71 74 71, 

288 J Cheetham (Eng) 74 68 69 77, C Swart (RSA) 73 72 70 73, 

289 D Wettlaufer (Can) 70 76 68 75, 

290 J Romero (Esp) 72 69 73 76, F Mann (Sco) 73 76 68 73, 

293 W Bladon (Eng) 77 70 70 76, J Berendt (Arg) 74 71 71 77, 

294 C Hunsucker (USA) 69 69 73 83, 

296 Y Nilsson (Swe) 72 71 73 80, 

Missed the cut (217)

222 Stephen Hamill (Nir) 76 77 69 0, 

227 Peter Sheehan (am) (Irl) 74 75 78 0