Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy is within touching distance of top spot on the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Order of Merit after his third runner-up finish of the season.
The 28-year-old secured second place at The Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters in Fife thanks to a closing four-under 66 at Leven Links to end the week as the closest challenger to Michael Stewart.
The Scotsman closed out his second round lead, a one-under 69 in his final round seeing him ease to a three-shot win over McElroy at 14-under-par for the first professional win of his career, coming only a week after he lost out to Ireland’s Stuart Grehan in a play-off at the Spey Valley Championship.
Despite finishing second, McElroy – who was also in that play-off at Spey Valley a week ago – was always trailing on the final day as he started his round six shots adrift of Stewart and would have needed an incredible performance to steal the win.
He did his best and managed to pull out a fantastic closing round, six birdies – four of them consecutive on the front nine – and two bogeys seeing him post his 66 which set the early clubhouse target at 11-under.
But it always looked like it wasn’t going to be enough with Stewart holding steady, and the local favourite was able to comfortably hold onto top spot thanks to three birdies and two bogeys, parring his way in from the 12th onwards.
McElroy did overtake both Nick Watson and Brandon Robinson Thompson, who started the day tied for second at 10-under but carded rounds of 71 and 72 respectively.
That means the Northern Irishman is only £308,055.36 behind Order of Merit leader James Allan with one regular season event to go before the Tour Championship at Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, and it would take a miracle for him not to have his Challenge Tour card already wrapped up for next season.
He is in red hot form, too, this finish meaning he has secured back-to-back runner-up results on the satellite tour after losing out in that play-off to Grehan at last week’s Spey Valley Championship.
Meanwhile, Galway’s Ronan Mullarney secured his best finish of the season as a one-under 69 in his final round saw him finish tied for fourth at nine-under-par, with Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith a shot further back after his own 69 took him to eight-under.
Grehan backed up his win last week with a tied-18th finish at six-under following a closing 70, with Limerick’s Tim Rice rounding things off with a 71 to end his tournament tied for 33rd at four-under.