Gavin Moynihan fired a blemish-free three under par 68 on the Lakes Course to move up 5 places and into a tie for 8th at the Final Stage of European Tour Qualifying School in Tarragona.
The Mount Juliet professional moves into the coveted top-10 on the leaderboard at Lumine Golf Club on ten under par, eager to cap a breakthrough year on the Challenge Tour by earning his full playing privileges on the main tour for next season.
It wasn’t quite as spectacular as his 67 on day three, but it didn’t need to be – Gavin frugal with his mistakes all day in plotting himself ‘round the tricky Spanish layout, currently five behind Englishman Sam Horsfield.
After finishing 19th in the Challenge Tour rankings this season Moynihan entered this week knowing he will get up to 12 European Tour starts next year . But the top 10 here will get far more, as many as 25 so Moynihan was treating this week as a bonus.
“Considering it’s the Final Stage, it’s a pretty relaxed week for me this week,” he remarked before the event began.
“The ranking I have from the Challenge Tour will give me a good number of European Tour starts anyway, so I can just go for it this week – if I play well, great, if I don’t it’s not the end of the world for me.
“I started the year with nothing, absolutely nothing. I was at the EuroPro Q-School in March just trying to get a bit of form going, so to have had the year I’ve had is incredible really.
“Overall it’s been such a positive year that I can just look forward to this week and see it as a bonus if it all goes well – I’ve got nothing to lose so I’m going to be aggressive and see how it ends up.”
The good news for the Irish contingent didn’t stop with Moynihan, however, as Ruaidhri McGee blazed a trail on his outward half to burst into the top-70 and ties that progressed to the final two days of the tournament.
The Rosapenna Ripper roasted the back nine on the Hills Course, notching no less than seven birdies to be out in just 29 precious strokes. He stuttered home a little with three bogeys and just the one other gain, but with 36 holes to play, Ruaidhri is into a tie for 50th on four under par and more importantly, now only four shots off earning main tour status for next season.
For Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin, the journey ends here after a brave Q School effort fell three shots short of the required cut mark. Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy was four shots further back at five over par.
Away from the home interest, Simon Khan made the 72-hole cut to keep his dream of a European Tour return alive, with fledgling professionals Adri Arnaus and Robert MacIntyre also producing notable performances after four rounds of the golfing marathon.
England’s Khan, a two-time European Tour winner, made the cut on the two under par mark after a three under par round of 68, with 74 players now set to contest the final 36 holes on the Lakes Course at Lumine Golf Club before the top 25 and ties secure Race to Dubai status for 2018.
Ahead of him, compatriot Sam Horsfield leads the way on 15 under par, one shot ahead of fellow Englishman Charlie Ford whose seven under par 64 was the round of the day in Tarragona.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Arnaus – who only turned professional this week – continued his excellent 2017 form, which already saw him win the Alps Tour’s Order of Merit.
The 23 year old reached five under par to comfortably make the cut, one of four Spaniards to do so on home soil, including Gonzalez Fernandez-Castaño – who has fellow seven-time European Tour winner Alvaro Quiros caddying for him this week.
Scotland’s MacIntyre was delighted to have secured himself a full Challenge Tour category for next season by making the cut just two months after he represented Great Britain & Ireland at the Walker Cup.
Another man happy to have secured Challenge Tour status was Jonathan Thomson, who will become the tallest player on the European Tour if he gets a card this week – standing at 6’9”, the Englishman is now in a share of third place on 12 under par.