Gavin Moynihan returns to the Oman Open this week after agonisingly missing out on the weekend action by a single stroke at the inaugural event 12 months ago.
Gavin Moynihan / Image from Getty Images
The Dubliner, now representing Mount Juliet as their touring professional, is also sporting a new sponsor this week in CarsIreland.ie and had endured a torrid start to his European Tour career after a string of missed cuts at the time, but showed incredible resilience at Q-School to regain his Tour privileges, thus setting up another shot at the big time this year once more.
He returns to the Greg Norman designed Al Mouj Golf layout in Muscat, again needing a good result, but his form has proved better this time around thanks to a mental strength forged through the tribulations he faced in his rookie year last term.
After completing the Australian swing of the new season with a with a tie for 27th at the Handa Vic Open to show for it, The Island Golf Club product also enjoyed an encouraging week before Christmas at the Mauritius Open where he finished tied 11th.
A good season is so often founded on a fast start and Moynihan will be hoping he can enjoy all four rounds in the Omani capital this time around when he tees off alongside Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Victor Perez in the early hours of Thursday morning, 03.25 (Irish Time).
The second edition of the Oman Open boasts a star-studded line-up full of Ryder Cup stars, multiple European Tour winners, a Major champion and Oman’s very own Azaan Al Rumhy when the Sultanate’s biggest ever professional sports event returns on Thursday.
2017 British Masters Champion, Paul Dunne finds himself amongst them after his near victory at the Perth World Super 6 two weeks ago. Having fired a 66 on moving day to burst his way into the second seed position heading into the six-hole shootouts, Dunne was beaten in the semi-finals by eventual winner, Ryan Fox before claiming a podium finish with a win over Scott Vincent in the third/fourth place playoff.
Dunne’s made no secret of his battle with form so far this season but there were signs of his former self in his work in Australia. After enjoying a week off with family in Dubai, he’ll be aiming for success on debut at Muscat. The Greystones star tees off alongside Dean Burmester and Kurt Kitayama on Thursday at 09.20 (Irish Time).
Six-time European Tour winner and defending Oman Open champion, Joost Luiten will no doubt be a force once more after a top-10 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship last week. The Dutchman is targeting another solid performance in the capital after coming out on top of an enthralling final-round battle with close friend Chris Wood to seal the inaugural tournament last year.
“I was surprised by how good Al Mouj Golf was,” said Luiten. “It was my first time playing in Oman and I didn’t know what to expect but I just fell in love with the course. It’s a tough track and there is a stiff wind to contest with so you have to bring your ‘A’ game to be in contention come Sunday. It suits my game and I can’t wait to go back as champion and look forward to defending my title.”