Conor O’Rourke came within two shots of forcing a play-off at the Motocaddy Northern Ireland Masters but ultimately came up short as England’s Sam Broadhurst held on for the win at Clandeboye.
The K Club man tied the low round of the final day, posting a four-under 67 at the Dufferin Course that consisted of six birdies and two bogeys to set the clubhouse target at seven-under-par, thanks to two birdies in his last four holes.
That had O’Rourke in line to potentially go into a play-off, with Wallasey’s Joshua McMahon also ending the tournament at seven-under after a 68, and it is still his best finish of the season, but he would come up just shy as the top-two on the leaderboard diced down the stretch.
It was The Caversham’s Broadhurst and Gog Magog’s Paul Maddy who were neck-and-neck going down the stretch, the former having taken a two-shot lead into the final round but the latter managed to catch him.
An eagle, three birdies and two bogeys took Maddy into a share of the lead as Broadhurst slowed after a hot start, three birdies in his first seven holes taking him clear, only for bogeys at the eighth and 11th to bring him back to the pack.
But just when it looked like the Englishman had blown his chance at winning inside 54 holes, he produced a clutch birdie at the par-four 18th to win by one shot at nine-under-par after a 69, with Maddy settling for second at eight-under with a 68.
Stuart Grehan continued an excellent recent run with a top-five finish, ending the week tied for fifth after a closing level-par to stay at four-under-par, five shots off Broadhurst.
Whitehead’s John-Ross Galbraith had a strong finish as a two-under 69 brought him to two-under-par for the week, just outside the top-10, and he was joined there by Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, who closed with a disappointing 73.
The 28-year-old still looks to have potentially done enough to secure his Challenge Tour card for next season, but he likely needs one more big result to remove any more doubt.
A final round 69 took West Cliffs’ Brendan McCarroll to one-under-par, with The K Club’s Liam Grehan and Galway’s Ronan Mullarney a shot further back at level-par after final rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.
Defending champion Simon Thornton put up a spirited defence of his title as he also finished at level-par, but he will be frustrated with a closing 74 that dropped him outside the top-15.
Brandshaws Brae’s Colin Fairweather rounded out the local contingent at one-over-par as he ended his tournament with a 70.
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