Chris Maclean foiled in bid to sign off in style on PGA EuroPro Tour

Chris Maclean was just nine holes away from joining fellow Scot Michael Stewart in securing a Challenge Tour card for next season before seeing his bubble burst in the final-ever round on the PGA EuroPro Tour.

Balmore's Chris Maclean led with nine holes to play in the season-ending Matchroom Tour Championship.
Balmore's Chris Maclean led with nine holes to play in the season-ending Matchroom Tour Championship.

Maclean, who is attached to Balmore on the outskirts of Glasgow, headed into the Matchroom Tour Championship at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland needing to pick up a top prize worth £25,000 to force his way into the top five on the money-list.

He started the final round one off the lead after opening with scores of 69 and 70 at the Enniskillen venue, where the course was designed by Nick Faldo, before making his move with birdies at the fourth and ninth.

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On seven-under, he was suddenly out in front, but a potential jump of 29 spots to fourth in the end-of-season standings for the former University of Stirling golf scholar slowly disappeared on the inward journey.

A bogey at the tenth took the wind out of his sails and further dropped shots at the 14th, 15th and 17th left him having to settle for a two-over 74 and a three-under total. That left him in a tie for third, two shots behind Englishman James Allan, who clinched an Order of Merit in style by finishing a stroke ahead of Welshman Jack Davidson to land a third success of the season.

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Chelmsford man Allan finished the campaign with earnings just over £60,000, with Stewart, helped by a win in the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Leven Links, his closest challenger on £36,200. Irishman Dermot McElroy (£35,186), Davidson (£31,405) and England’s Josh Hilleard (£29,121) were the others to secure Challenge Tour step ups.

Jeff Wright fared next best after Stewart among the Caledonian contingent but, in 20th position, the Forres man came up around £19,000 short of the fifth and final card spot, with a last-day cheque for £4,357 lifting Maclean 11 spots to 22nd.

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The circuit, which helped the likes of major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel get a foothold in the professional game, is being scrapped after 20 years due to the “impact of changing global investment, media and sponsorship”.

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