A lip out on the last would ultimately prove costly for Ronan Mullarney as he finished up one stroke shy of the playoff at the Alps Tour’s Open de La Mirabelle in Metz, France, as Holland’s Kiet Van der Weele captured his third win and extends his lead at the top of the Order of Merit.
Four back of solo leader Theo Brizard going into the final round, Mullarney would card five birdies to two bogeys on the first 17 holes, and approached the last tied for the lead, though unaware as to exactly where he stood in the tournament.
One of the hardest holes on the course, he’d have just over 200 yards off a downhill lie and his approach would find the front bunker and from a tricky lie, would give himself a good look for par only to watch the putt catch the edge and defy gravity.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I was playing really aggressively,” he would later say of his closing hole, “It’s a long hole and I hit my approach a bit thin and it just ran into the bunker, about three inches into the bunker and I hit it to about five feet, I’d say. The putt was on a bit of a hog’s back and it caught the lip, but lipped out. So, it is what it is.
“I’m a bit disappointed, but it’s just part of the game. Tomorrow I fly to Italy for the next event, so we’ll just try to keep the train running.”
Mullarney would end the week in a tie for fifth, retaining his second-placed position on the Order of Merit, further solidifying his position in the all-important top five in the rankings with a 2024 Challenge Tour card firmly in his sights.
Earlier in the day, Paul McBride would sign for a two-over 72 to end the week tied for 25th at +3.
With his third win in six starts, Van der Weele has secured Category 12 status on the Challenge Tour for the rest of this year and for 2024. After winning in Como last week, he’d go back-to-back thanks to a birdie on the second sudden-death playoff hole against French duo Brizard and Nicolas Aparicio and England’s Jack Floyd, and upon receiving confirmation of his graduation, the Dutchman was understandably delighted.
“It feels like a dream,” he said. “I always imagined it but do it is another thing. I’m extremely happy! It’s a great feeling to be in this position and to see all the hard work coming out. I’m honestly still speechless and I think I’ll be that way for a while.”
When asked how he approached the final round, Van der Weele added: “I knew the course was playing tricky today as the wind was picking up and the pins were tricky and tucked. I knew the other players weren’t going to go very low with the conditions so I knew if I stayed patient and focused on my strategy I couldn’t be to much out of it and I’m very glad it worked.”