Gary Hurley was left with bittersweet feelings after he moved into the top-five of the Alps Tour Order of Merit with just two events to go at the Roma Alps Open but missed out on a second win of the season.
The Irishman, who is based at Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi, had held a share of the lead at Golf Club Parco de’ Medici at the halfway stage of the final round, but had to settle for second after a superb back nine from Gregorio de Leo earned him the win.
The Italian played his final nine holes in five-under-par on his way to an eight-under 64 to claim a three-shot win over Hurley and Stefano Mazzoli at 20-under-par, with his third win of the year earning him immediate promotion to the Challenge Tour.
While missing out on the title himself will leave Hurley disappointed, he can fall back on the fact that he is now up to fifth on the Alps Tour Order of Merit, with the top-five joining De Leo on the Challenge Tour next season.
But there will be frustration that he didn’t make it a closer fight on the back nine as he played his outward nine in three-under to share the lead with overnight leader Julien Paltrinieri and Spain’s Alex Esmatges at 14-under.
Amateur Paltrinieri quickly dropped two shots on his back nine to fall away, eventually finishing tied for sixth at 14-under after a closing 72, while Esmatges returned a 70 to end his week at 15-under in solo fifth.
Ahead of them all, Mazzoli signed for a superb nine-under 62 that featured 11 birdies and two bogeys to set the clubhouse lead at 17-under, a score that was matched by Hurley, who returned with an eagle, two birdies and a bogey for a closing 66.
But they were all beaten by De Leo, whose excellent finish saw him record an eagle, four birdies and a bogey on his way back to the clubhouse to claim a comfortable win at 20-under-par and a place on the second tier.
Naas man Jonathan Yates finished just outside the top-10 in a share for 11th after eight birdies and a bogey led to a seven-under 65 that took him to 11-under.
Paul McBride closed with a 69 to end his week tied for 19th at nine-under-par, while Michael Young was a shot further back as he concluded his tournament with a 68 for a share of 26th.