Walker battles hard to finish as leading Irishman as Kitt seals Order of Merit win

Ronan MacNamara
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Walker battles hard to finish as leading Irishman as Kitt seals Order of Merit win

Simon Walker of Maynooth University (Photo by Octavio Passos/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Simon Walker raced through the field to finish inside the top-6 at the R&A Student Tour Series finale in extremely challenging conditions at St Andrews.

The Maynooth University scholar carded an impressive two-over 73 in the gale force winds to rise seven places to sixth and six shots adrift of eventual winner Greg Hurley.

Walker who hails from Roscommon GC settled for an eight-over total after mixing a pair of birdies with four bogeys on the Castle Course.

Walker carded birdies on the second and sixth holes but dropped shots on 3, 5 and 7 to turn in 37. He looked like completing a superb back nine with nine straight pars but a dropped shot on the 17th halted his fine run.

Fellow Maynoothian Harry Gillivan secured a top-10 finish despite a chastening ten-over effort of 81 putting paid to his chances of lifting the title.

Having started the day just three shots adrift on level-par Gillivan was still in the hunt at five behind despite turning in three-over 39. However, a triple bogey on the par-3 10th ended any hopes of a back nine charge and he dropped four shots in his final three holes but managed to finish in a share of 8th.

There were also shares of tenth place for Eoin Sullivan, Eoin Murphy and Ryan Griffin (all +11) while Athenry man and Order of Merit leader David Kitt finished one shot further back on twelve-over after a fine effort of 75 which was good enough to see him end the five-event series as the number one.

The Maynooth University golfer finished two points ahead of England’s Ben Brookes and five ahead of Hurley while Griffin (4th), Gillivan (6th), Sullivan (7th), Walker (8th), and Murphy (9th) rounded off a strong series for the Irish.

Kitt who won the Stirling International leg of the series can look forward to a maiden Arnold Palmer Cup appearance as a reward for topping the season-long race.

Griffin trailed by four shots after a three-over front nine but he also suffered a dagger to the heart on the treacherous par-3 10th racking up a quadruple-bogey seven. The Donegal native bogeyed three of his next five holes before carding a double on the 17th.

Despite two bogeys in his last four holes England’s Hurley held on for a one-stroke victory over Swede Jesper Littorin on level-par.

After a difficult start, Hurley brought a three-shot lead into the back nine after regaining his composure with three birdies in seven holes following back-to-back dropped shots.

Bogeys on 11, 15 and 16 threatened to derail his title ambitions as Littorin piled on the pressure with a late run of birdie, par, bogey, birdie but Hurley kept his emotions in check to par the last two holes and take the spoils.

Hurley will gain the opportunity to tee it up in a Challenge Tour event later this year.

In the women’s section Kate Dwyer shot an eleven-over 84 to finish on plus-27 as Lucy Jamieson made it an English double as she held on to win by two shots on six-over after a final round 80.

The Englishwoman can look forward to a spot in a LET Access Series Event this season.

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