PGA Europro Tour — Dermot McElroy might have three-putted the last to miss out on a playoff, but the Ballymena man is flying high after his second successive runner-up finish sent him soaring to the top of the Europro Tour Order of Merit.
Having finished second at Close House in the season opener two weeks ago, McElroy opened his final round in the Great National Hotels Irish Masters at Ballykisteen Golf Hotel with five consecutive birdies to force himself into contention.
By the time he reached the 16th he lead on 14-under-par, but he pulled his approach into the water there and held a tricky putt to escape with bogey.
However, a three-putt at the last scuppered his hopes of forcing a play-off with England's Sam Robertshawe, who closed with a course-record equalling 65 to win by a stroke from McElroy and Scotland's Sean Lawrie on 13-under par.
McElroy had to settle for a cheque for £4,500 and now heads the Order of Merit by £500 from Robertshawe with £10,500 with Gavin Moynihan — cut in Tipperary — third on £10,000 following his win at Close House.
The top five on the Order of Merit at the end of the season win automatic promotion to the Challenge Tour.
“I have had a few close calls in the past and it is such an amazing feeling to finally get it done,” said Robertshawe, who won £10,000, a brand new Motocaddy S3 PRO electric trolley with lithium battery, Bushnell Pro X2 Range Finder and Bolle sunglasses.
“It is an emotional win. My dad has been very unwell over the last four or five months - he would normally be here. I started my PGA at the end of last year as a back-up plan so to come here and have the hard work pay off is very emotional, and I am overwhelmed.
“From start to finish I have been comfortable with the way I was playing and warming it up. I knew there would always be chances out there on the golf course and I drove it well, put a lot of shots close and when I was within five or six feet I was holing the putts.
“When I finished my round I wasn’t sure if it was enough. There were over 20 players within five shots of my score, and it was tough to know if it was enough, especially with a lot of rain coming in. I just had to wait and see what happened.”
Muskerry's Niall Turner had a one-stroke lead entering the final round, but a level par 72 saw him finish fourth with Dave Coupland, two shots behind the winner on 11-under-par.
Headfort's Brian Casey (69) was a shot further back on 10-under with Stephen Grant (67), and David Higgins (70) tied 17th on eight-under, Mark Staunton (73) 25th on seven-under and Cian McNamara (71) tied 38th on five-under.
Highlights of the Great National Hotels Irish Masters will air on Sky Sports on Tuesday, May 23.
The HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour continues with the IFX Championship at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxford next Wednesday, May 17 to Friday, May 19.