Heartbreak for Hurley who comes up one shy of Gøth-Rasmussen in Cadiz

Mark McGowan

Jonathan Gøth-Rasmussen (Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Gary Hurley is set to take a major leap up the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca standings after a solo second-place finish at the Challenge de Cadiz but it could have been so much more were it not for Jonathan Gøth-Rasmussen holding his nerve after the Waterford man had heaped on the pressure.

Starting the day tied for second and four shots back, all Hurley could do was go out and shoot a low score and hope that Gøth-Rasmussen tightened a little, and that’s exactly what the former Walker Cup hero did, carding seven birdies with just a solitary bogey to fire his best round of the week and put clear daylight between himself and his fellow chasers.

Birdies on two, four and eight saw him reach the halfway mark at -3, but the Dane, who’d gotten off to a nervy start with an opening bogey, had regrouped to cover his first nine in -2 and held a three-shot lead.

But Hurley pressed on the gas again on the back side, reeling off three birdies in a row to start the charge home and pulled within one of Gøth-Rasmussen who’d made his fourth birdie of the day on 11.

A bogey on the par-3 15th looked to have spelled curtains for Hurley, but upon reaching the 18th tee and with a two-shot deficit, he knew he’d have to birdie the par-3 closer and hope for a gift from the Dane. Hurley duly delivered, but Gøth-Rasmussen, playing in the group behind, held his nerve and parred the remaining two holes to take his maiden Challenge Tour victory.

“It feels amazing right now. It’s been a long day and I was very nervous out there so I am relieved to get the job done. I felt the pressure on the last three holes because they were very tough and the greens are firm.

“I was aggressive off of the tee all day but I still had to rely on my short game to get me out of trouble on a few occasions,” he said afterwards.

“I saw Gary Hurley was going low and I was kept updated which increased the pressure. I was sweating right up until I saw that final putt drop and it was very exciting. I’m proud to get my first victory on the Challenge Tour.

“It is great to replicate my dad and it’s amazing to have two Challenge Tour winners in the family now. I have been coming down to the South of Spain all of my life for family holidays and I love this part of the world. I love the courses and it feels very nice to win here.

“This is definitely the best achievement of my career so far. Getting my DP World Tour card at Qualifying School was pretty special but this definitely tops it. I’m going to fly home tonight and celebrate with a few beers tomorrow.”

Despite the obvious disappointment of coming so close only to watch the trophy get handed to another, Hurley can take great heart from the week and he jumps 39 places in the Road to Mallorca rankings to 18th, inside the magical top-20 where, should he hold firm, he’d be rewarded with a return to the DP World Tour for 2025.

He’s six places ahead of Conor Purcell in the standings after the Portmarnock man signed off with a 71 to finish tied for 17th. Two late bogeys cost him another top 10 finish, but he remains on course for another strong tilt towards the end of the season.

Ruaidhri McGee’s hopes of a top-10 finish faded on the final day as he struggled to a two-over 74 and ended the week tied for 43rd at -3, but in just his second Challenge Tour start of the year, he can take inspiration, knowing that three double-bogeys over the course of the week were the difference.

Jonathan Caldwell rounded out the Irish contingent at the weekend and the Clandeboye man recovered from yesterday’s disappointment to shoot a final-round 71 that lifted him four places up to 60th. FULL SCORING

The Challenge Tour visits Ireland from August 1st – 4th at the K Club and CLICK HERE to secure your free tickets to the event where a host of Irish players including Conor Purcell, Gary Hurley Mark Power, Ronan Mullarney and many more will be in action.

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