Gavin Moynihan is not only staring at the likelihood of a career best European Tour finish but has also dramatically given himself the real chance of retaining his Tour card heading to the final day of the French Open in Versailles
Moynihan kept in sight of the lead thanks to three birdies in succession from the 13th hole in a bogey-free 68 to end the day sharing third place at eight-under par but five shots off the lead.
Belgium’s big-hitting Nicolas Colsaerts dropped his only shot of the round at the 17th but sounded an ominous warning to Moynihan and all other rivals in holing an 18-foot birdie at the 18th in a score of 67 for a 13-under par tally to be three strokes clear of the French field.
Colsaerts, 36 is looking not only to end a seven-year winless run in capturing just a third Tour title but the former Ryder Cup star is lying 114th on the Race to Dubai and only one place inside retaining full Tour membership.
A win would hand the affable Monaco-based golfer a very timely two-year Tour exemption.
“I was very pleased with my round today as I wasn’t really looking at what the lead was or where I was on the board but then I kind of knew so I didn’t really have to pay that much attention,” he said.
“I am on a bit of a mission now to continue to do what I have been doing and not think more about winning this tournament.
“The thing is also this tournament now in October is not as busy with spectators as it is normally in June.
“The thing also is that I can hear French in the crowd so I am going to have to kind of play with ear plugs in but so far it’s been really good.
“But don’t get me wrong as it would be amazing to win this thing and, like I say, if I stay away from thinking that, I think my chances will be a lot higher than if I see this thing right in front of me.”
As mentioned, Moynihan capped his round with three birdies in succession starting at the par-4 13th where he holed a 15-footer ahead of birdies at the 14th and 15th for a second day running.
“It was a very good round and to be bogey-free around this golf course is probably stealing a few,” he said.
“It was very good with a few nice up-and-downs on the front nine to kind of keep the round going and then I played lovely over the back nine.
“So, it was a nice score and very happy.”
Moynihan is coming off a 10th place finish in last week’s secondary Challenge Tour Stone Irish Challenge at the Headfort Golf Club in Kells and has continued that form in a first showing on the famed Le National course.
With earlier rounds of 68 and 69, Moynihan has posted three sub-70 scores for only the second occasion in 22 Main Tour events this year, having previously managed that in the Scandinavian Invitation while his best finish has been 11th in his very first event of the 2018/19 season at the Mauritius Open.
Also, the cooler weather and softer course conditions in Versailles this week, compared to the ‘better’ weather when the event was held in June, is similar to last week in Ireland, with Moynihan saying that has helped his French cause.
“A lot of my play this week has been not stress-free but it’s been good, and hopefully I can keep it going for tomorrow,” he said.
Moynihan arrived in Versailles lying well done in 162nd on the Race to Dubai in a first full season on the Main Tour and is projected to jump 21 places to 141st should he finish T5th.
However, Moynihan is clearly staring at a real chance of finishing second or third, a result that should see him break into the top-120 on the Race to Dubai.
If so, it would send the quietly-spoken Irishman to next week’s Portugal Masters with a real chance of ending his season inside the top-115, bravely holding onto his main Tour card.
“I have not thought about winning once this week and like I played the Challenge Tour last week in Ireland, and I played very chilled-out golf and kind of brought that with me here this week,” he said.
“The conditions this week are very similar to last week so that has really helped me gear-up for this week as it was tough being raining, windy and long rough.
“So, it has been an easy transition from last week into this week and I will continue to free-wheel tomorrow again and see where I end-up.”
Full scoring HERE