It proved to be a bitterly disappointing day for both Irish contenders on the Staysure Tour as the VTB Russian Open Golf Championship came to a close in Moscow.
Ronan Rafferty was forced to withdraw before ever hitting a ball in the final round; a cruel blow for the Northern Irishman who found himself just two shots off the leaders on five-under-par heading into the last day.
While Headfort’s Brendan McGovern, who was just four shots off the summit of the leaderboard starting out, posted a five-over-par 77 to fall 16 places and into a tie for 25th on two-over.
There were no such troubles for David Shacklady who secured an emotional victory at Moscow Country Club on Sunday as a final round 69 gave him a two-shot triumph.
The Englishman finished on eight-under-par, two shots clear of Welsh duo Stephen Dodd and Phillip Price, the latter of whom led after both the first and second rounds in Moscow but posted a one over par 73 on Day Three.
Shacklady began the day two shots behind overnight leader Price, but took the outright lead after the front nine on Sunday thanks to three birdies going out before navigating the back nine in level par.
Playing in his first year on the Staysure Tour, Shacklady was clearly emotional after securing his maiden title.
“It’s unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a bit of a blur at the moment. My aim was just to keep my card and now I’ve done that comfortably.
“It’s just unbelievable. I’ve been playing great. I played great in the last event at the London Golf Club. I spent some time with my coach Simon Edwards and it felt great there and I’ve brought it here.
“I just stayed patient and I hit it great, to be fair. I managed to hold them all off with a load of pars, which was lovely.”
The 51 year old has three top 20 finishes to his name prior to this week’s event but he admits to feeling frustrated and putting himself under too much pressure in previous weeks.
“I’ve been frustrated that I’ve not really got to where I feel I can play, my level,” he said. “I’ve perhaps done a bit too much leaderboard watching, a bit too much pressure on myself and I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up at every event.
“To get up there and stay up there and finish it off against class players like this, it’s unbelievable. I don’t know when I’ll actually believe it to be honest.”
Shacklady, who dedicated his win to John O’Connor, a friend and former colleague at Ormskirk Golf Club in the north of England who recently passed away, admits he’s having ‘the time of his life’ on the Staysure Tour.
“I’m having the time of my life,” he said. “I’ve watched these guys on TV all my life so playing with them is just a dream to start with. To contend with them and now to win is unbelievable.
“They are proven players and have been for many years. Phillip has played in The Ryder Cup and Stephen has won many titles.
“There’s a lot of winners in the field and you know they’re not going to give you a title, you’ve got to earn it. I was nervous but I managed to keep my head and pars were good, thankfully.”
Price was Shacklady’s nearest challenger for most of the final round, but two bogeys in his final four holes ensured he had to settle for a share of second with countryman Dodd.
Behind the Welsh duo were José Coceres, Malcolm MacKenzie, Mauricio Molina and Gary Wolstenholme on three-under-par, while Simon P Brown and Chris Williams were a shot further back on two under par.
Williams carded the low round of the week on Sunday, signing for a six under par 66 after carding rounds of 73 and 75 on the first two days.
The Staysure Tour will now visit Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club for the Willow Senior Golf Classic between August 24-26.
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