Moynihan leads home limp Irish Challenge at Hopps Open

Bernie McGuire

There wasn’t much to talk about from an Irish perspective at the Challenge Tour’s Hopps Open de Provence where Gavin Moynihan was the sole representative over the weekend and the Dubliner would have been disappointed with his three-over-par 75 to finish.


Moynihan signed off with a double on 17 before a bogey on the last to drop 21 places down the leaderboard into a tie for 40th on one-under.


Earlier in the week, Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee (+1), Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin (+2), Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell (+9) and Michael Hoey, who pulled out after a first round 79, all failed to make the weekend cut.

Ireland’s leading Challenge Tour players will be hoping to bounce back in two weeks’ time when the competition heads for Concra Wood and the Irish Challenge, October 4-7.

At the top, Romain Langasque claimed his maiden European Challenge Tour title on home soil by three shots.

Langasque, who started the day two strokes behind overnight leader and fellow countryman Victor Perez, signed for a round of 67, five-under-par, to become the first French Challenge Tour champion of the season.

The 23-year-old started on the back foot as he bogeyed the first, but bounced back with successive birdies on four and five to start his surge for the title.

With the lead exchanging hands between Joel Girrbach, Perez and Joel Sjöholm, Langasque joined the leaders after he birdied the driveable par four seventh. A further gain on the ninth saw him take control with nine holes to play, as the home crowd continued to spur their favourite on.

A dropped shot after the turn brought Girrbach into contention as Sjöholm and Perez made errors. However, Langasque was determined to claim his first title on Europe’s top developmental tour as he birdied the par five 14thand parred the following three holes.

Langasque, who was playing a group ahead of the Swiss star, kept his fate in his own hands as he sank a seven-foot birdie putt on the last, meaning Girrbach needed an eagle to win or a birdie to force a play-off.

With Girrbach unable to chip in for birdie, Langasque was thrilled to be crowned the first Hopps Open de Provence champion at Golf International de Pont Royal.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “The last few months have been tough for me as I haven’t been playing well, but recently I’ve changed my coach and a few other things.  

“I knew my game was in good shape this week and my putting made the big difference today. I was really focussed, and I made a lot of putts between one and three metres and that was the key to taking my chance and winning.

“I tried not to focus on the score. I tried to stay positive all the time and took it shot-by-shot and continued to do my job. I had everything to win today and nothing to lose. On the 18th I just went for it with my approach, and then my putt was straight in the middle of the hole.

“The crowds have been amazing, especially today and yesterday. It’s been a long time since I’ve played with so many people around me. I think they helped me maintain the right attitude to win the tournament.”

Girrbach double-bogeyed the 18thto card a round of 71, one under par, and joined Sjöholm in second place, after the Swede also shot a round of 71. The pair finished three strokes adrift of the Frenchman, while overnight leader Perez carded a disappointing two over par round of 74 to finish in a share of fourth alongside Hugo Leon.

With his victory, Langasque jumps from 55thto 17th on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah with Girrbach also moving into the top 20 in the Rankings as he lies 19th, while Sjöholm moves from 104th to 56th.

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