Gavin Moynihan and Paul Dunne will enter the throes of battle this week to secure playing rights for the 2020 European Tour season.
The race for a card reaches its climax this Sunday, with the top 117 players in the Race to Dubai following the Portugal Masters set to retain their European Tour privileges for next year.
Only 0.7 points separate Jack Singh Brar, who occupies 117th position, and his closest rival, Greystones’ Dunne, who currently sits just outside the provisional cut off for 2020 membership.
A top-50 finish should be enough to seal Dunne’s future on the Main Tour but that will be easier said than done given the 26-year old has missed 11 cuts in his last 13 events.
Moynihan, meanwhile, faces a much stiffer task from 140th on the Race to Dubai standings but given the Dubliner tasted his career-best European Tour finish last week at the Open de France, he’s understandably positive about his prospects of bettering that result at Vilamoura.
For the 13th consecutive year, the Portugal Masters will be staged at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura on the sunny Algarve. The venue has hosted every edition of the tournament since the inaugural contest in 2007, although the players will be faced with a slightly tougher test when they return this week following an extensive course upgrade.
The tougher, the better for The Island golfer, now touring professional out of Mount Juliet with Moynihan likely needing a top-3 finish if he’s to grasp one of the cards on offer this week for next season.
Since getting back to basics and the reason why he fell in love with the game in the first place, Moynihan credited some hotly contested golf with friends at The Island for rekindling some form of late. Indeed, even the agony of losing out on a €150,000 BMW i8 after seeing his approach slam dunk, before being spat out at the par-3 16th last week in France wasn’t enough to deter the good vibes emanating out of camp Moynihan.
“Everyone on the tee was reminding me of the car,” Moynihan said. “I was happy with par, but I couldn’t believe it stayed out. It went down and obviously had spin coming out of the hole and spun back to probably 12, 15 feet.”
And no wonder he remains positive. His five bogeys over 72-holes at the notoriously difficult Le Golf National was by far the fewest in the field but it will be a case of birdie blitzing around Vilamoura this week if he’s to gain the necessary finish to avoid Qualifying School for next year.
Irish tee times, Thursday:
09.10am – Paul Dunne (10th)
12.30pm – Gavin Moynihan (1st)
12.40pm – Michael Hoey (10th)
13.30pm – Padraig Harrington (1st)