Dermot McElroy’s hopes of victory in the Irish Challenge at Portmarnock Links were dashed following a closing one over par, 72 that eventually saw him finish in a tie for fourth place, worth €11,000.
The 27-year-old Ballymena golfer led by a shot on eight under par going into the final round but eventually finished two shots adrift of the winner, Daan Huizing.
Huizing from Zwolle in the Netherlands, claimed a third title on the Challenge Tour with a playoff victory over Spain's Eduard Rousaud after the pair finished on nine under; it took just one more to separate them, the Dutch golfer managing a par to his opponent's bogey.
On a perfect day for scoring with just a gentle breeze to contend with in the warm sunshine, McElroy was stymied by a cold putter. A bogey on the par five sixth was the only deviation from regulation figures on the way out, while a birdie on the 16th was offset by a second dropped shot on the final hole.
A regular on the Europro Tour, the Northern Ireland golfer was understandably pleased with his efforts during the tournament, albeit tinged with a little disappointment that he wasn’t able to sustain that momentum through to a win.
He admitted: “I played very well this week, I was especially happy with my overall game. There were no destructive shots whatsoever. I’m obviously disappointed not to win because I had a good opportunity, all day, to make a lot of birdies but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
“The course was out there for the taking as you saw with the scores today. I gave myself plenty of chances but I could not hole a putt out there unfortunately.” His goal for the rest of the season is to try and earn a place on next season’s Challenge Tour.
Michael Hoey produced the best round of the day from an Irish perspective with a superb, five under par, 66 to clamber into seventh place overall, and earning €7,040 in the process. The 42-year-old, who has three wins on the Challenge Tour, showed both grit and ability over the weekend, bouncing back from a late arrival on Friday to the first tee that cost him a two-shot penalty.
He said: “These courses suit me. A lot of the young guys hit it 40 (yards) past me. I tend to need golf courses like this that are 10 to 12 under tournament winning scores. It suits me better. It was ideal conditions, the greens were fantastic so you could hole putts. It was just enjoyable. Yesterday was probably the exact same a rare two wonderful days on the links.”
Northern Ireland teenager Tom McKibbin closed with a level par 71 for a share of 12th place that boosted the coffers by €3,630. Cameron Raymond, 71, finished in a tie for 18th, James Sugrue, 67, tied 23rd, Simon Thornton, 67 and Paul McBride, 72, tied 35th, Gavin Moynihan, 72 and Stuart Grehan, 73 were tied 42nd with Conor O'Rourke, 71, in tied 49th place.
Meanwhile on the European Tour Austria's Bernd Wiesberger defended his Made in HimmerLand title in style as he cruised to a five shot win in Denmark. The 35-year-old led after every round and having started the day with a one-shot advantage, dominated proceedings with eight birdies in a closing 64 to finish at 21 under and claim his eighth European Tour title. Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell finished it a tie for 31st place.
Wiesberger’s triumph means nobody has won more than his four titles on the European Tour since the start of the 2019 season, one that is likely to lift him back into the official world golf ranking’s top 50.
Irish Challenge - Leading scores
275 D Huizing (Ned) 71 69 68 67, E Rousaud (ESP) 71 69 66 69,
276 A Garcia-Heredia (ESP) 64 73 69 70,
277 D Borda (ESP) 70 75 67 65, Y Paul (GER) 69 71 71 66, D McElroy (NIR) 70 68 67 72,
278 M Hoey (NIR) 71 71 70 66,
279 J Lando Casanova (FRA) 72 70 71 66, D Boote (WAL) 72 72 69 66,
280 D Hillier (NZL) 72 72 68 68, G King (ENG) 67 69 74 70,
281 C Berardo (FRA) 75 71 68 67, G Krisjansson (ISL) 69 71 73 68, B Schmidt (ENG) 71 71 70 69, A Knappe (GER) 70 72 69 70, J Brun (FRA) 71 72 68 70, T McKibbin (NIR) 68 73 69 71,
282 O Hunderbell (DEN) 72 74 70 66, J Dantorp (SWE) 71 73 70 68, M Lundberg (SWE) 71 72 70 69, C Raymond (IRL) 68 74 69 71, B Virto (ESP) 68 71 69 74,
283 A Wilson (ENG) 72 68 78 65, J Sugrue (IRL) 72 74 70 67, J Girrbach (SUI) 73 72 70 68,
284 D Gavins (ENG) 72 71 73 68, H Arkenau (GER) 74 72 69 69, F Lacroix (FRA) 75 67 70 72,
285 E Di Nitto (ITA) 73 73 73 66, N Kristensen (DEN) 72 70 75 68, C Mivis (BEL) 72 72 73 68, B Rusch (SUI) 73 69 72 71, R Dinwiddie (ENG) 72 73 68 72, R Gouveia (POR) 72 71 68 74