FLAME-HAIRED Irishman Gavin Moynihan recovered from a quintuple-bogey 9 in his third round to record a remarkable two-shot victory in the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship at Panmure.
“I could never have envisaged winning after that,” admitted the 19-year-old Dubliner of the nightmare he overcame at the 12th hole on the excellent Angus course to become the first Irishman to claim the title in 33 years.
Six behind heading into the final round, Moynihan, a member of The Island, closed with a 67 to post the clubhouse target of five-under and, though far from confident that would be good enough, it proved out of reach for the final few groups.
Australian Geoff Drakeford, who’d led from the off after a best-of-the tournament 65 on Friday, came to the last two holes tied with Moynihan but finished bogey-bogey.
After being four ahead with a circuit to go, a closing 75 left him having to settle for a share of second with Moynihan’s compatriot Jack Hume and Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh after they both came hurtling through the field with matching closing salvos of 66.
Moynihan’s “worst hole ever” stemmed from him finding thick rough from the tee, his recovery from which went “straight right” and was lost. His next one plugged in the bank in a hazard and, after taking a second penalty, the standard three-putt at the end of any nightmare hole followed.
“I was four-under for the round until then but, to be honest, I thought the tournament was over for me after that,” admitted Moynihan, winner of both the Irish Stroke-Play Championship and Peter McEvoy Trophy in 2012.
Back-to-back birdies at the next two holes repaired some of the damage, as did a 3 at the last, where he rolled in a 20-footer that certainly helped lunch be much more palatable than it might have been.
A member of last year’s Walker Cup team, Moynihan’s final round was illuminated by an eagle-3 at the 14th, where he smashed a 7-iron from 222 yards to eight feet.
That, coupled with a double-bogey for Drakeford at the 12th, were really the decisive moments as the leaderboard was unexpectedly turned on its head to produce the first winner from the Emerald Isle since Ryder Cup hero Philip Walton at Renfrew in 1981. “I know Philip well as he’s a member at my club so I’m sure he’ll be happy for me,” said Moynihan.
It was a sore one for Drakeford, who surprisingly took driver at the 17th and paid the price by finding a gorse bush. Another bogey at the last, where he was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker, rubbed salt into the 22-year-old’s wounds. “I just hit a couple of stray shots,” he reported.
While eight Scots finished in the top 20, none of them really got into a position to challenge for an event that was last won by a home player – Wallace Booth – in 2008. Scott Gibson from Southerness finished as top Scot in joint-seventh, six adrift, though equally commendable was 16-year-old Dalmahoy player Murray Naismith claiming ninth spot.