Michael Hoey signed off with a two-under-par 70 to grab a share of 18th spot at the Foshan Open in China.
The Northern Irishman could only manage two birdies in a blemish-free final round and his 12-under-par total fell seven shots shy of the winning mark.
The result saw Hoey drop one place to 21st on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah standings ahead of next week’s Grand Final, with the top-15 set to earn their European Tour ticket next season.
That’s no longer the target for Victor Perez who secured his 2019 European Tour card with a dramatic play-off victory over Robert MacIntyre.
Several players jostled for the lead throughout the final day but it was Perez and MacIntyre who were tied after 72 holes, with the Frenchman posting a three under 69 and the Scot a seven under 65 to finish on 19 under par in total. They returned to the 18th hole for a play-off and it was Perez who emerged triumphant, holing a birdie after the Scot could only card a par.
With his win in Foshan, the 26 year old moves to second on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah and after securing a memorable victory, he admits to experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions during a tough final day.
“It was actually really hard to go off with the lead, on a course like this which is playable,” he said. “Everybody is going to come at you.
“Even the guys at 11 under could have shot eight under and been in the play-off today. It was a little bit windier and it made some of the holes a little bit harder.
“I think Peter, my caddy, and I did a really good job of just staying patient and waiting for holes to get looks. The stress on top of everything makes a 15-footer become a 22-footer and all of a sudden you’re thinking about two-putting.
“I was so close last year and just came up short with a little lack of experience. I feel like I played such great golf since August with all those top tens and top 15s. I couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve really been getting myself in positions without getting the results I wanted. I was hoping I’d capitalise at some point and it just happens to be in the biggest week of the year.”
MacIntyre had set the clubhouse lead at 19 under par with an incredible eagle on the 18th hole which sent the Foshan crowd into frenzy and after hearing the celebrations, Perez knew he had work to do with two holes to play before holing a phenomenal putt of his own on the final hole.
“I heard the reaction to Robert MacIntyre’s putt,” he said. “We were on the 17th fairway and we heard the biggest roar. I turned to Peter and went ‘oh no, somebody did it’.
“I was expecting something because I knew Jack Singh Brar was making a run and Max Orrin was right there making a run, Sean Crocker was making a run and it could’ve been anybody’s tournament.
“One shot could have dropped you four or five places, it was really nerve-wracking coming down the stretch.
“I got a bit of grace on 18 with that huge putt, it’s a one in a million type of putt. I haven’t dropped one all week and then I drop one and it happens to be there on 18.
“A play-off is a play-off, it can go either way and I was fortunate to come out on top today.”
Perez now heads into the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final with a chance to top the Rankings, something which the Frenchman is relishing.
“It’s a game-changer at this point,” he said. “It means I’ll be a little bit less stressed than this time last year. Thankfully it’s behind me now and I can look to the future. I can go into next week with a chance to win the Challenge Tour Rankings, depending on how JB Hansen plays.
“I’ve given myself the chance to win the Tour which would obviously be another big step which I could add to my résumé. I can start looking forward to next year with new tournaments and a different schedule.
“It’s an achievement that I can’t really put into words. Pulling in a win in the biggest week of the year is unbelievable.”
Perez and MacIntyre top a packed leaderboard at the end of the Foshan Open, with Sean Crocker and Max Orrin finishing one shot behind on 18 under par. Englishman Jack Singh Brar and Darius van Driel, of The Netherlands, were a shot further back on 17 under.
Oscar Lengden, Adrian Meronk and Jack Wilson finished on 16 under, while Ewen Ferguson and Francesco Laporta finished tied tenth on 15 under.
It’s all change on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah heading into the Grand Final, with Pedro Figueiredo, Oliver Wilson and Dimitrios Papadatos dropping out of the top 15, being replaced by Perez, MacIntyre and Crocker.
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