GolfSixes partners, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan will hope to reignite their own individual playing ambitions when they get underway at today’s starting Open de España.
8 missed cuts from 10 events between June and September saw Dunne split with caddie Darren Reynolds at the Alfred Dunhill Links as his search for form continues.
The Greystones golfer is currently ranked 106th on the Race to Dubai standings with work to do if he’s to break back inside the top-100. He’ll hope that his four-under par 68 on Saturday at St. Andrews might just be the spark he’s been looking for with time running out to force his way to the UAE.
Meanwhile Moynihan returns to action looking to bounce back from a horror final round 79 at the KLM Open when looking on track to secure a season-altering result in Holland.
The Mount Juliet pro tumbled 41 places down the board on that final day but will need to string four rounds together this week if he’s to improve on his ranking of 158th on the Race to Dubai table.
Michael Hoey completes the Irish line-up in Spain. The Ballymoney professional hasn’t been seen since a missed cut at the KLM Open a fortnight ago and will hope to recapture his early season form with time running out this term.
The man to beat this week will be home favourite, Jon Rahm who spoke of his honour of representing Spanish golf as he returned to his homeland to defend the Mutuactivos Open de España title in Madrid.
The 24-year-old followed in the footsteps of one of his sporting idols in the late Seve Ballesteros when he clinched the title last April, adding his name to an elite list of Spanish champions.
He became the sixth home winner of the event alongside Antonio Garrido (1972), Ballesteros (1981, 1985 and 1995), Sergio Garcia (2002), Alvaro Quiros (2010) and Miguel Ángel Jiménez (2014).
Rahm is aiming to become the first player to successfully defend his title since it first became part of the European Tour’s International Schedule in 1972, and hopes to do so for the maiden time in his career in front of a partisan Club de Campo Villa de Madrid crowd.
“I wish I would have been able to enjoy it a little more,” Rahm said. “It was still a great week. Walking down to the 18th green was a great feeling – 50,000 fans showed up to an event that was planned and advertised late
“I’d like to know how many other European Tour events get 50,000 people. I was really proud of my country and proud of myself to be able to come and win.
“It’s a huge honour to represent Spain and Spanish golf. We all try and follow Seve’s steps and to win that event was unique and very special.”
Rahm needed just 19 events to secure his third title on the European Tour before adding the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in July this year, and the World Number Five is looking to to achieve another landmark in his 39th event.
“I had no idea,” Rahm added. “I hope I can get to five before Seve did [who achieved the feat in 49 events]. I would love to do that. Those records are always nice. That’s something I have in mind when I’m playing.
“There are some weeks when I really want to win – I’d love to be a multiple winner of the Open de España and I’d love this to be the first time I successfully defend a title. So, I hope that happens.
“It won’t be more pressure than last year. It was the first time I played the event, I was fourth in the world, I had just played well at Augusta. It was a golf course I played in high school.
“This time I don’t know the golf course. Hopefully I can just focus on playing good golf and be in the mix on Sunday.”
Irish tee times: (Irish time)
07.50 – Gavin Moynihan
08.50 – Paul Dunne
13.00 – Michael Hoey