Moynihan heads for Qatar with a spring in his step

Bernie McGuire
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Moynihan heads for Qatar with a spring in his step

 Gavin Moynihan

Gavin Moynihan would have enjoyed his 90-minute flight from Muscat to Doha after claiming a superb finish in Oman and no doubt arrived in Doha a happy man after claiming a hard-fought tie for 12th on Sunday last.

The Mount Juliet touring professional ground out scores better than most during a week of wild weather in Muscat and managed two birdies and three bogeys in a solid final effort.

The display brought Moynihan’s best finish in his three events this year while the result is just a place shy of the tie for 11thhe recorded two months ago in his opening event of the 2018/19 European Tour wraparound schedule at the Mauritius Open.

The Dubliner collected a cheque worth €23,293 for the result and tees up this week at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (Mar 7-10) ahead of next week’s Kenyan Open seemingly more settled in his work on the main tour after a rough rookie year.

Last term, Moynihan’s Qatar hopes were all but squashed after six nightmare opening holes on day one that saw him slip to the foot of the board at six-over par. He bounced back last year with a five-under par 67 in round two and he’ll be hoping to get out of the blocks fast this time around to ensure more weekend action at a crucial period in the season for any fledgling pro.

The only Irishman in the field this week, Moynihan gets his tournament underway at 0345 Irish time (0645 local time) on Thursday morning alongside Hideto Tanihara and Scott Fernandez.

Meanwhile, Paul Dunne will give the tournament a miss after he signed off with a 73 of his own to claim a share of 58thplace on seven-over par after struggling to get to grips with Al Mouj golf club on debut last week.

The opposite was true for Kurt Kitayama, however, who produced a remarkable comeback to win his second European Tour title of the season in Oman.

The American was two shots back with three holes to play on an attritional final day but birdies on the 16th and 17th saw him sign for a 70 to get to seven under, a shot clear of Spaniard Jorge Campillo, German Maximilian Kieffer, Frenchman Clément Sordet and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti.

Kitayama came through all three stages of the Qualifying School to earn his rookie season and now has two wins in just 11 European Tour starts after his victory at the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.

“This one feels really good because when I won the first one I was playing really well and it just felt like it was coming,” he said. “This week I came in off three missed cuts and not having good weekends in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It feels great to grind through all of that.

“The way we started that third round, I was like, ‘can we stop right now?’. It gave me a refresh and it was incredible coming back.”

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