Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy believes he has done enough to secure his playing rights on the Challenge Tour for next season after winning his second PGA EuroPro Tour title at the CPG Classic supporting England & Wales Blind Golf.
The 28-year-old started the day one shot behind Airdrie’s Greg Dalziel but fired a five-under 66 in his final round at Belton Woods Hotel to claim a three-shot victory over Howley Hall’s Ben Hutchinson and Gog Magog’s Paul Maddy at 15-under-par.
Not only is it McElroy’s second EuroPro Tour win, after triumphing at the Cubefunder Championship last season, but it also takes him over £6,000 clear at the top of the EuroPro Tour’s Order of Merit in the race for a place on the Challenge Tour next season.
And the Ballymena man, who has won his last two starts having also claimed the NI Open title last week, is thrilled to be on the verge of earning promotion to the second tier.
“It looks like that could be enough. Last year £23,000 was enough to get (promoted) and I’m on 23 now and I’ve still got the Tour Championship to come which is double the prize money, so that should be enough,” said McElroy.
“A win this week has pretty much secured it, so I’m feeling really, really happy with this. To get it done after seven or eight events is fantastic. Just knowing I can plan my schedule a bit more and I’ll be a bit busier is amazing.”
Having started the day behind Dalziel, the Scot fell away out of contention quickly allowing McElroy to open up a comfortable two-shot lead at the turn with birdies at the first, sixth, seventh and ninth, which included putts from 30- and 50-feet.
Maddy threatened with an eagle at the 12th and a birdie at the 15th to close within two, and McElroy managed to stay one ahead when he holed another 30-footer for bogey at the par-four 14th after taking a drop from a bush following an errant drive.
But Maddy bogeyed the 16th to finish alongside Hutchinson at 12-under, leaving McElroy to birdie the 15th and then par his way in for a comfortable victory that puts him in a fantastic position on the Order of Merit.
“It was mainly about making sure I didn’t make any silly mistakes down the stretch and, apart from the 14th, I played really steady golf and that was really pleasing,” he smiled.
“It feels pretty automatic at the moment. My game is there right now, I’m feeling really good about how I’m playing. My routine is good, my swing is good, my shots are good – I’m feeling extremely comfortable on the golf course.
“It’s great to win. I’ve been in great form for the last month or so, so it was fantastic to see that translate into a win on the EuroPro.”
McElroy now turns his attentions to the Challenge Tour over the next few weeks, heading to Germany and then back to The K Club for the Irish Challenge, and having finished 11th at the recent Open de Bretagne and with two wins under his belt since, he could yet make a splash at a higher level.
“This year isn’t over yet! We’ve still got half the season left, so hopefully I can have a good finish as well and who knows, maybe I can do something on the Challenge Tour as well,” grinned McElroy.
“The form I’m in on the golf course, I feel like I still have more to come.”
Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan finished with a two-under 69 to end the week tied for 24th at three-under-par, with The K Club’s Conor O’Rourke claiming a share of 33rd at one-under-par after a closing 71.