Awesome Dawson notches third runner-up finish of 2017
 Robin Dawson. Picture: Golffile/GUI

Robin Dawson. Picture: Golffile/GUI

Robin Dawson moved a step closer to the top 200 in the world rankings and into the reckoning for a Walker Cup place when he finished second for the third time in four starts in the European Nations Cup in Spain.

The Tramore and Maynooth University star went into the final round at the exacting Real Club de Golf de Sotogrande three strokes behind eventual champion and the recent Spanish Amateur Open winner Jack Davidson of Wales. 

But while he closed to within one stroke of the leader as he started par-eagle to Davidson's bogey-birdie, it was as close as he would get and he eventually carded a two over 74 to his rival's 73 to finish four behind on one-under par.

It was another hugely impressive performance from the Welshman, who beat Kevin LeBlanc in the  semi-finals of the Spanish Amateur Open before going to defeat England's Marco Penge in the final at El Saler on February 5.

Ireland also had to settle for second place behind Wales in the team standings with Kevin LeBlanc's 77 the next best of the bunch as Alex Gleeson shot 80 and Stuart Grehan an 82 to leave them tied 16th on 15-over-par.

Dawson finished second two weeks running in February when he was the runner-up in both the South African Stroke Play Championship and the Cape Province Open.

This latest finish can only be seen as a huge positive, and if he ever has any doubts, he can always look to Pádraig Harrington for comfort.

“At one stage, I think I had 29 second places on The European Tour or around the world, and people wanted to pigeon-hole me into a certain category,” Harrington said after winning the Honda Classic at the age of 44 last year. 

“Some of them I lost through being ahead and relaxing. Some I lost to hitting bad shots under pressure. Some I shot a great round to finish second. Somebody else holed a putt to beat me, and I could do nothing about it.

“All 29 second places were learning experiences, and the third and fourth places, you’re learning every time,” he explained. “You understand how to read a situation, and that’s the one thing I can do really well now. I read the situation very well coming down the stretch. 

"I can understand what the other players are doing, how they are feeling, what’s likely to happen; who is the threat, what do I have to do; do I need to push on or is that guy going to come back to me.”

In the women's competition, Chloe Salort of France closed with a 77 to win by one stroke on 11-over par as Holland took the team prize by one stroke from Denmark.

European Nations Cup, Real Club de Golf de Sotogrande (Par 72)

Scores

1 DAVIDSON, JACK (Wal) 70 70 70 73 283

2 DAWSON, ROBIN (Ire) 71 69 73 74 287

3 SCHELLONG, NICOLAS (Cze) 78 74 70 72 294
4 GUILLBERG, OLIVER (Swe) 75 75 71 75 296
T5 ARNAUS ANTUNEZ, ADRIÁ (Esp) 76 75 75 72 298
T5 HIDALGO PORTILLO, ANGEL (Esp) 76 75 70 77 298
T7 SCHMITT, MAX (Ger) 80 74 72 73 299
T7 MACINTYRE, ROBERT (Sco) 79 71 73 76 299
T7 SYME, CONNOR (Sco) 76 74 73 76 299
T10 EDWARDS, OWEN (Wal) 78 74 74 74 300
T10 REITAN, KRISTOFFER (Nor) 76 73 76 75 300
T10 BOOTE, DAVID (Wal) 70 76 79 75 300

T16 GLEESON, ALEX (Ire) 77 75 71 80 303
T16 GREHAN, STUART (Ire) 78 72 71 82 303
T45 LEBLANC, KEVIN (Ire) 79 81 75 77 312