Mallow’s James Sugrue came up just short in his bid to claim his first Alps Tour victory as he finished in fifth place, two shots off the top at the Open de la Mirabelle d’Or in Metz, France.
The Irishman had started the day in a share of the lead at nine-under with France’s Victor Trehet, but a three-under 67 at Golf de la Grange aux Ormes was only good enough to get him into the top-five at 12-under.
Instead, he was overtaken by French amateur Tom Vaillant and Italy’s Manfredi Manica, who carded rounds of 63 and 64 respectively to finish 14-under, and it was the former who claimed the victory in the play-off.
Vaillant shot a bogey-free final round 63 with 5 birdies and 1 eagle for a total at 14 under-par and even though he is still an amateur, he is an experienced Alps Tour player with this being his second season playing on the tour. When he completed the playoff, he was very pleased, “It was a really good day, played very nicely so it’s always great to have a great day like today. It means a lot to win here in France in this historical tournament. Even after the win today, my goals won’t game, I want to do my best everyday in every round.”
Sugrue never got the momentum behind him as an early birdie at the par-four first was undone by a bogey at the par-three third and, though he got that back one hole later by birdieing the par-five fourth, seven straight pars halted his momentum.
Late birdies came at the par-five 12th and par-four 14th, but it wasn’t enough to put the Mallow man into the winner’s circle and instead he had to settle for a first top-five finish of the season.
Trehet, meanwhile, had a poor back nine to thank for finishing outside the top-10, the Frenchman having also sat at 12-under after his opening 11 holes, but a bogey at the 12th and then a double-bogey on the 18th saw him finish the day where he started after a 70.
It ended up being a two-way duel for the title between Vaillant and Manica, with the former setting the target at 14-under after five birdies and an eagle in a brilliant seven-under 63, but the Italian would force a play-off in stunning fashion.
Having eagled his opening hole, Manica would only add two more birdies before he reached the final hole to sit two behind, but when he needed it most he holed his second shot at the par-four for a jaw-dropping second eagle to send it to extra holes.
But he couldn’t repeat the feat to lift the title and instead it was amateur Vaillant who triumphed on home soil in the play-off to lift the trophy in front of a delighted local crowd.