A bogey on the final hole of the final round of the final tournament of the Alps Tour season cost David Carey a place on next year’s Challenge Tour as he could only finish third at the Grand Final in Italy.
The Castleknock ace was in a three-way tie for the lead alongside Victor Garcia Broto and Riccardo Bregoli going down the last hole at Modena Country Club knowing that a birdie would give him not just a win but a place on the second-tier next season.
Even a par would have been enough to force a play-off, from which he could have still won, but it was heartbreak for Carey who dropped a shot on the 18th to finish at 12-under, agonisingly seeing his bid for promotion come up one shot shy.
Instead, Garcia Broto claimed the win to earn a Challenge Tour place, the Spaniard shooting a one-under 71 to finish 13-under and then going on to win on the first play-off hole over impressive Italian amateur Bregoli, who was outstanding in firing an eight-under 64 in his final round to force the extra hole.
Carey doesn’t go away empty handed for his efforts, the Irishman earning €5,000 for finishing third, but this setback will sting as not only did he miss out on full Challenge Tour playing rights, he also wasn’t able to break into the top-10 in the Order of Merit which would have exempted him to the Final Stage of Challenge Tour Q-School and earned him limited starts on the second-tier next year.
Having started the week in 15th, a solo second finish would have been enough to get him into the top-10, and the win would have taken him into the top-five, but third place was only enough to move him up to 12th in the season standings, two places too low.
Bregoli had set the mark in the clubhouse at 13-under having teed off early due to him starting the day seven shots back, the Italian carding five birdies and a bogey to go with two eagles, one of which came on his final hole as he finished with a flourish.
That had Garcia Broto and Carey chasing, the Spanish ace having held a two-shot lead over the Irishman going into the final day, and it looked like the overnight leader would run away with it when, despite a bogey on his opening hole, he rattled off three birdies in four holes around the turn.
In contrast, Castleknock man Carey was struggling to gather any momentum as he bogeyed the third but only had one birdie at the eighth in a rather tepid front nine.
But Garcia Broto would run into trouble, back-to-back bogeys coming at the 11th and 12th and Carey was there to capitalise with birdies at 10, 12 and 13 to draw level at the top alongside Bregoli and his playing partner, who bounced back with a birdie at the 13th.
So, going down the 18th, it was all to play for but, sadly, it wasn’t to be for the Irish ace, Carey dropping his final shot of the week at the final hole of the week to finish one back, with Garcia Broto’s par enough to put him into a shootout with Bregoli for the title.
And it would be Garcia Broto who would triumph on the first play-off hole to lift the trophy, take home the €7,500 prize fund and earn himself a Challenge Tour card for next season having leapt up to fourth in the final Order of Merit standings.
It was a good day too for Jonathan Yates, the Naas man picking up a cheque for €2,100 after finishing fifth at 10-under as he concluded his tournament with a two-under 70, while West Waterford’s Gary Hurley finished nicely with a one-under 71 taking him onto four-under for the week, good for a tie of 22nd.
The other four automatic promotion places went to Jacopo Vecchi Fossa – who was already guaranteed to win the Order of Merit coming into the week regardless of his performance in Modena – Ryan Lumsden, Angel Hidalgo Portillo and Paul Elissalde.
Three Frenchmen were among the five players who earned exemptions into the Final Stage of Challenge Tour Q-School as the next five finishers on the Order of Merit, amateur Paul Margolis, Franck Medale and Edgar Catherine joined by Italy’s Stefano Mazzoli and Portugal’s Vitor Londot Lopes.
Yates finished 35th in the Order of Merit, with Hurley down in 40th, while Paul McBride (45th) and Simon Bryan (69th) elected not to play in the season-concluding tournament.