Gary Hurley held his nerve and closed out the first win of his professional career in style as he romped to a four-shot win at the Alps de Andalucia on the Alps Tour in Ayamonte, Spain.
The West Waterford man started the day in a share of the lead and would stay at the top of the leaderboard all day, pulling away from the chasing pack with a five-under 67 at Valle Guadiana Links to reach an unassailable 18-under-par to lift the title.
The victory is a deserved reward for Hurley, who has had a consistent start to the season having finished in the top-10 in four of his 11 starts prior to heading to Andalucia, and this takes him one step closer to a return to the Challenge Tour.
The 29-year-old, who has credited swing coach Ed Coughlan as changing his form around this year, even had to show some resolve after an early wobble, bogeying his second hole, but from there he was never going to be caught.
“I’ve been playing very well this year, it was just a matter of having everything click,” said Hurley.
“I was in a really good space this week. Probably the best I’ve ever been, today I controlled my emotions very well. I’m not surprised but I’m very happy.”
On his last 4 holes of the day, he went eagle, birdie, par and birdie on the 18th hole to finish and at one point during his round he was unaware to be tied with Sale,
“I looked at the leaderboard on the 18th fairway for the first time today, I could see Julien was playing well ahead of me but I was just taking care of my business since I couldn’t control what he would do.
“I controlled my emotions and my execution really well. I was nervous but excited to test it today and feel the nerves.”
This is his first official win as a professional and he was very satisfied: “It is my first win on the official world golf ranking, it feels amazing. Today was a great day for me even, if it hadn’t been with a win, I controlled my game and my emotions and I’m very pleased.”
Hurley had started the day tied at the top of the leaderboard with the Netherlands’ Davey Porsius at 13-under, but the Dutchman double-bogeyed the first hole and would fall out of contention altogether with a 75, paving the way for the Irishman’s victory.
Italy’s Andrea Romero, out in one of the early groups, had initially set the clubhouse target with a 64 that took him to 12-under, before French amateur Julian Sale made a brief run with five birdies in seven holes that led to a 67 and the new lead at 14-under.
But Hurley was not to be denied on this occasion. The former Walker Cup star responded superbly to that early bogey with birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth before the turn to pull two shots clear of the field, then at 15-under, and on the back nine he shut the door.
A bogey at the par-three 14th was just a blip on his way to emphatically claiming the win as he once again bounced back in perfect fashion with an eagle at the par-three 15th and then a birdie at the 16th, meaning he stood on the 18th tee with a three-shot lead.
And needing just a double-bogey to win, Hurley instead rounded things off in emphatic fashion as he birdied the par-five for a four-shot victory and a huge step towards securing Challenge Tour status for next season.
Further down the leaderboard, final round 68 saw David Carey finish his week at nine-under and just outside the top-10 in a share of 12th, while Jonathan Yates’ closing 69 meant he tied for 26th at five-under-par for the tournament.
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