Ruaidhri McGee came within an inch of winning on just his second appearance of the season at the Blot Open de Bretagne but he would come up one shot short in France as he had to settle for runner-up to Alfie Plant.
The pair started the day tied for the lead at nine-under-par and McGee had opened up an early five-shot advantage after three birdies in his first three holes, but it was the Englishman who would triumph after a titanic tussle at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val André in Pléneuf.
With both players tied at the top at 10-under standing on the 17th, it would be Plant who would pick up the crucial birdie at the par-four to pull one shot ahead and McGee was unable to claw it back on the final hole, handing the Londoner his second Challenge Tour title.
The Derry man instead had to settle for a one-under 69 and second place at 10-under-par, with Spain’s Borja Virto continuing a strong season as he briefly threatened thanks to a run of four straight birdies, but eventually claimed solo third at nine-under-par after a three-under 67.
Despite the agony of coming up just shy, McGee can be very proud of how he performed in his second competitive event in two years and will be encouraged that he does have it in him to work his way up the Race to Mallorca standings and potentially earn playing rights on the DP World Tour next season.
This one will sting for a while, though, particularly given how well the 31-year-old started as he recorded birdies at his first three holes to move up to 12-under, which gave him a five-shot lead over Plant after the Englishman bogeyed the second and fourth to drop back to seven-under.
But as Plant found his scoring touch with four birdies in seven holes, starting at the eighth, McGee came back to him with a double-bogey at the par-four fifth and then a bogey at the par-four 10th, although he did ensure he would stay tied for the lead at 11-under with an eagle at the par-five 11th.
Both players dropped shots, Plant first at the par-three 15th and then McGee at the par-four 16th, before the champion struck the crucial blow when he birdied the 17th to pull one shot clear, and when the Irishman could only par the 18th it was game over.
Dermot McElroy also had a strong week as he finished just outside the top-10 in his first Challenge Tour start of the season as he closed with a level-par 70 in Pléneuf.
The Ballymena man will be disappointed with two bogeys in his final four holes that cost him a top-10 finish, but four birdies and four bogeys was another fine performance to leave him three-under-par for the week and he will be pleased with a tied-11th result.
Meanwhile, four bogeys and three birdies in his final round saw Gavin Moynihan end his week with back-to-back one-over 71s and at three-over-par for the tournament and in a share of 38th.
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