Mooney remains in the hunt in Turkey as McGovern’s chances fade

Mark McGowan
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Damian Mooney - Image by IrishGolfer / Mel Maclaine

Damian Mooney fired a second-round level-par 72 to remain at -1, while a four-over 76 saw Brendan McGovern slip down the chasing pack in Legends Tour Final Qualifying at Gloria Golf Resort in Turkey.

Needing a top-five finish in the 72-hole qualifier to secure playing rights on the Legends Tour in 2023, birdies were not Mooney’s problem. He had six in total, four at the Old Course’s five par-5s, with two more at the par-4 4th and 13th holes, but he followed a bogey at the tough par-3 2nd with a crushing double-bogey at the next, but he rebounded impressively with back-to-back birdies on 4 and 5, and added another at the ninth to make the turn in level par.

Two more birdies at 12 and 13 had him comfortably inside the top-10 in running, but three bogeys on the spin threatened to derail his chances altogether. To his credit, he fought back bravely once more, taking care of the par-5 17th and tidying up for par on the last to post a far from straightforward level-par round, and sit at -1, tied 16th, and six shots off the lead.

“I was three-over after three” said Mooney post-round, “I lost a ball in the trees on the third, it got stuck in the canopy just off the fairway, so a bit of a shock there, so ended up making double-bogey.” Unfortunately, he would lose another ball on the 16th.

“Then I lost me tee shot on the 16th, on a short, drivable par-4, I changed my mind mid-down swing and lost my ball to the right hand-side in a bush, but made a birdie with the second ball so limited the damage.”

“It was a bit of a rollercoaster,” Mooney admitted, but when it was out to him that he’d been unfortunate, he disagreed somewhat. “That’s the nature of golf, isn’t it? You’ve got to take whatever comes. I played a whole lot worse yesterday and had a better score, and then I played nicely and was hitting good shots today and shot a lower score. I was on a nice run at one stage, where I made five birdies from the fourth to the 13th. I won’t say it was easy, but it was flowing and comfortable, then I got knocked out of kilter at 14, got a bad lie on 15 and had the mental thing on 16.

“I’m fairly happy though. I played really badly yesterday, and only hit six greens but had 23 putts. Today I hit 14 greens, but didn’t get up and down the way I did yesterday. If I can get a score tomorrow, if I can limit the mistakes, then I can capitalise.”

Beginning the day as the best placed Irish man in the field, Brendan McGovern’s chances of qualifying took a bitter blow after he signed for a 76, dropping him to tied 33rd, where he sits alongside David Higgins.

McGovern, starting on the back nine, never really got going. Bogeys at the 13th, 15th, and 18th, were followed by two more at 2 and 4, leaving the Headfort man five-over for the day. His solitary birdie came at the 5th, and though he steadied the ship on the way home, has left himself a mountain to climb with so few cards up for grabs.

The same can be said for Higgins, who fared slightly better in posting a one-over 73. Like yesterday, a turbulent start to the round was Higgins’ undoing, with two bogeys and a double leaving him four-over through seven holes. Again, like yesterday, Higgins responded admirably and made three birdies as he went bogey-free for the final 11 holes, but like McGovern, will need something really special if he is to get himself back in the mix.

Sadly, Galway’s Joe Lyons’ race appears to have been run. After a struggling 77 on day one, Lyons fared much better today, but his 73 has him in a tie for 51st at +6.

The mid-way pace is being set by Carlos Balmaseda of Spain and David Griffiths from England. The former’s 66 was the low round of the day, while Griffiths backed up his opening 68 with a 69 to remain tied for the lead at -7 after 36 holes.

Frenchman Lionel Alexandre and England’s Robert Coles are currently in a two-way tie for fourth at -5, with Sweden’s Magnus Atlevi lying solo third at -6, one shot behind. Those are the five projected qualifiers at the halfway point.

FULL SCORING

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